facebook slingshot

Last month, word got out that Facebook was working on a Snapchat competitor called Slingshot. Despite the company’s recent $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, it’s still very interested in the video and ephemeral messaging space that’s popular among teens.

Today, we got a sneak peek at the app when it prematurely surfaced in the App Store this afternoon. From what we’ve seen so far, it is beautifully designed and offers both familiar features, such as annotation, and non-familiar features like unlock-able content…

TechCrunch caught the app’s iTunes description before it was pulled:

The app is designed to allow friends to share photos and videos of what they’re currently up to, by “slinging” that content to others on the service. However, unlike, say, competitor Snapchat, friends can’t see your shot until they, in turn, sling something back. 

That feature, though a bit gimmicky, seems specifically designed to increase the viral effects and spread of Slingshot. By tapping into users’ natural curiosity, they may be motivated to share with a friend in order to “unlock” the new shots they receive. 

Slingshot rolled out to several markets outside of the US earlier today, but within a few hours it began disappearing. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the release was an accident, and added “it’ll be ready soon and we’re excited for you to try it out.” 

This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried to make a play into this space. Before failing to reach an agreement to buy Snapchat last year, the company tried its hand with an application called Poke. The app never picked up much traction though, and it was killed off in May.

We’ll let you know when Slingshot is officially available.