Facebook released a new app for the Apple iOS app store and we can only assume will eventually come to the Android Market (now known as Google Play). This new app is called ‘Poke’ and is basically the rebirth of Facebook’s old poke system, which was minimalistic communication and essentially the digital equivalent of a head nod. Poke’s are almost never used as over the years Facebook’s new features have greatly depreciated its use.
The new Poke app, released Friday afternoon, is a rebirth of the old concept with some kinda cool new features. We tried it out and heres what we learned. The simple free app, called Facebook Poke, allows you to send fleeting messages, pokes, photos and 10-second videos to Facebook friends. The messages expire after a set period of time, from 1 to 10 seconds, and cannot be retrieved by either party again.
“With the Poke app, you can poke or send a message, photo, or video to Facebook friends to share what you’re up to in a lightweight way,” says Facebook in a blog post announcing the new app.
Upon opening the app, you can choose from a set of icons at the bottom of the screen to send a poke, type a 120-character message, open the camera to snap a picture (you cannot choose an existing photo from your camera roll, but you can add fun doodles or text on top of the picture you do take), or shoot a 10-second video. Decide how long you want the other person to see your message or photo (1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds), add a location if you like, then choose one or more of your Facebook friends from the list and hit send.
To view a message, tap and hold until the little countdown clock in the corner runs down, and the message is gone forever. You can see a list of who send you messages, but not view them again.
The app Poke shamelessly imitates is Snapchat, a photo and video-sharing service that has surged in popularity over the past year year. It’s no mystery why Facebook is jumping on the temporary message bandwagon. Snapchat says it has millions of users who send around 50 million messages a day. Facebook has a history of imitation with their Facebook Camera app (providing functionality found in the main Facebook app in a standalone form that resembles Instagram).
The allure of self-destructing messages is that they are unlikely to be seen by anyone other than the recipient, or to resurface during a campaign for public office. Snapchat has earned a reputation as a tool for sending risqué photos, though its also handy for funny or silly images for friends.
Because of the private nature of these messages, the apps have built-in safeguards. The only way to keep a copy of a photo on these apps is to take a screenshot with your phone. Both Poke and Snapchat warn the sender when the recipient has grabbed a screenshot of their message.
Facebook seems keenly aware of how the Poke app will be used by most people.
“If you ever see something you’re uncomfortable with, you can click the gear menu and report it,” says the company in the post. In the app’s help center there are instructions for what to do when someone takes a screenshot against your will. That section helpfully links to a post on what to do when an adult is making you uncomfortable, and another on what to do when someone requests nude photos.
The app is Facebook’s fifth iOS app, joining the main Facebook app, Facebook Page Manager, Facebook Messenger and Facebook Camera.