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Facebook launches Slingshot messaging app by mistake, then pulls it

There's yet another messaging app ready to deploy into the world, and indeed Facebook accidentally sent its new offering, Slingshot, live into app stores in some markets before it was ready to launch.

Needless to say, it was swiftly pulled, but not before the Verge (opens in new tab) had spotted it on iTunes, and managed to grab the screenies and some of the details on how the app works.

A spokesperson for the social network confirmed to the Verge that the app's launch was a mistake: "Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we're working on. With Slingshot, you'll be able to share everyday moments with lots of people at once. It'll be ready soon and we're excited for you to try it out."

Slingshot, about which rumours were flying around last month (opens in new tab), is a Snapchat rival – another ephemeral messaging service that lets you fling images or videos over to friends, which you can caption or draw on, and they then vanish after being viewed. All this is apparently wrapped in a minimalist interface, and it's all very quick-fire, low-attention-span stuff.

The Verge reports that the main point of differentiation for Facebook's offering is that in order to view a message, the user must send a message in return first. Erm, is it just us, or does that sound more like a burden than a "feature"? We don't know about you, but we'd rather decide if something is worth a response, and then respond to it – the old fashioned traditional way – rather than having to send something pre-emptively to even view a message.

Facebook has designed this to encourage users to communicate about what they're up to, apparently, although you'd be forgiven for mistaking the mechanic for a ham-fisted way to try and artificially force up the number of messages sent across the service.

There will also be a React button which you can tap as you view another user's message, to send a pic of your reaction back to them (doubtless an opportunity to pull some faces which will definitely stick if the wind changes direction – and another way to inflate those all-important message numbers).

This isn't the first time Facebook has tried to stamp on Snapchat's toes, as the social network launched Poke back in 2012, though that was recently killed off after it failed to make any sort of impression. We'll just have to see if Slingshot proves to be equally badly aimed.

Image Credit: The Verge

Darren Allan
Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.