Thursday, June 19, 2014

Facebook's Slingshot App Sure Looks A Lot Like TapTalk


Facebook's Slingshot messaging app is oft-compared to Snapchat in regards to the app's function, but many have pointed out the app's aesthetic similarities to another popular app, TapTalk.

TapTalk is a video and photo app that was released earlier this year, well before Facebook's Slingshot app. People are arguing that Facebook used the look of TapTalk, combined it with the functionality of Snapchat, and added the send-one-to-see-one feature as a twist.

Let's take a look.

To start, the icons do bear a strong resemblance to each other.

TapTalk Slingshot

TapTalk also features a split-screen mode for sending and responding to messages. Slingshot usually operates in full-screen portrait mode, but a specific "React" feature does have a split-screen design for recording one's reaction to a message.

TapTalk Slingshot

To send a message on TapTalk, there's a square grid that holds small square pictures of all your contacts. Tapping a contact's square both records a picture and selects who the picture message will be sent to. The square grid carries a similar look to the pixelated aesthetic of the app's icons.

Slingshot's design also carries a distinct focus on the blocky pixelation aesthetic; each time you send a message, there's a nifty little animation that pixelates your photo and launches it away. Since you have to send a picture first in order to unlock any messages you haven't seen yet, locked messages are deliberately pixelated, too.

The similarities between Slingshot and TapTalk are certainly there, and using both apps, it's easy to get a weird sense of déjà vu &mdas! h; even though there are some significant differences in the focus of each app.

TapTalk is all about speed and streamlining the number of taps to send a message. Slingshot, on the other hand, deliberately slows down the conversation by requiring users to first send a reply before viewing a new message. It's a twist that brings a lot of delay and friction to conversations, but it also ensures people using Slingshot won't simply lurk; it forces engagement.

You could also make the argument that using pixelation as a design aesthetic isn't solely TapTalk's turf, and there are plenty of photo apps that utilize a split screen feature. But in an already crowded messaging app market, differentiation is key, and invoking the core feeling of another app is never a good thing.

It's murky and subjective territory, so we'll let you be the judge.

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