Whenever one of the big boys of the tech world launch a new app, there are bound to be comparisons with existing services. For that reason, you might think that Facebook Poke getting called a Snapchat rip-off is nothing out of the ordinary. In this case however, the allegations aren’t a mere snap response (pun intended); the new Poke app not only has the same basic concept as Snapchat, it even copies its features and interface to a large extent. If you don’t already know, Snapchat is touted as the most efficient real-time picture messenger that has the ability to automatically destroy messages after a fixed period of time. Facebook Poke does all the same things, but it might gain popularity owing to the fact that you don’t have to create a new account and invite all your friends to the app; every Facebook friend of yours who is on iOS gets listed by Poke automatically, and you can start a conversation with a single tap.
If you are already using the official Facebook app on your iPhone, there is no login procedure. Simply launch Poke and you are good to go. Rather than letting you choose a contact before starting a new chat session, Poke just lists all the items that can be shared via the app. Once you have written your text or snapped a photo, one or more recipients can be selected. Poke lets you add your location to messages, and if you want to send nothing more than an old-fashioned poke, there is a button for that too. Regarding incoming pokes, long-press on any thread on the app’s main screen to see if you have received any new ones.
All text messages, images and videos shared via Poke are available to the recipients only for a limited period of time. You can select this interval using the button located in the middle of the top bar. The possible choices range from a second to 10 seconds, and the countdown starts only when the other person has opened the message, so you don’t have to worry about things going to waste. Like Snapchat, users are notified if the recipient takes a screenshot of any message. A flash icon appears next to threads containing messages whose screenshot has been captured.
The still camera in Poke doesn’t have access to the camera roll of your device, and is only usable for sending pictures shot from within the app. Once a photo has been snapped, you can also doodle on it or add some text. It is possible to scrawl over photos in various colors, but the text input has to be in black only. When it comes to videos, there are no text options; furthermore, Poke only captures a clip for as long as you press and hold the recording button and as soon as it is released, the recording stops and is ready to be shared with any Poke contact.
The only area where Facebook Poke is worse off than Snapchat is its unavailability on Android, and once the app appears in the Play Store, it might drive all its competitors to extinction. For now, Poke is available as a free app optimized for iPhone (including iPhone 5) and iPod touch devices.