Snapchat cracks down on Windows Phone imitator apps


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Snapchat doesn’t offer a Windows Phone app, and the popular messaging platform doesn’t want third parties building Windows Phone apps for its service either. At least for the time being.

Over the weekend, a number of imitation Snapchat apps on the Windows Phone Store disappeared—apparently at Snapchat’s request.

Unlike many popular online networks, Snapchat doesn’t yet offer a public application programming interface (API) to allow developers to build apps for the service. A third-party Twitter client, for example, uses Twitter’s API to provide your timeline, direct messages, and so on.

Lacking a proper API, developers still figured out ways to access Snapchat data unofficially, but that technically violated Snapchat’s terms of service—a situation that Snapchat ignored until recently.

The impact on you at home: The story of Snapchat is a common one on Windows Phone. Without interest from official apps and services, many smaller third-party developers create unofficial apps for Windows Phone. Instagram, Instapaper, Pocket, Vine, and YouTube all rely on third-party alternatives because official Windows Phone apps for those services are non-existent. The problem is that some of these apps can put users at risk.

It sucks, but...

Microsoft was unavailable for comment at this writing, but Microsoft confirmed to the Verge that Snapchat asked for the apps to be removed from the Windows Phone Store.

The crackdown on third-party Snapchat apps comes after the SnapSaved hack in October leaked thousands of private Snapchat images online. SnapSaved was a third-party service that saved Snapchat images so you could look at them later.

Snapchat’s claim to fame is that images you send to others are automatically erased after a few seconds.

Following the SnapSaved hack, Snapchat said it would start cracking down on unofficial third-party apps to protect its users.

Without an official Snapchat API, for example, there isn’t a secure method for users to log in to their accounts. The only choice was for users to hand over their login details to the third-party app. But that meant unscrupulous developers could snatch up user login credentials. In fact, Snapchat says some third-party apps were snatching login details and then compromising user accounts.

Snapchat says it does plan on releasing an API, but it wants to take the time it needs to create a secure third-party ecosystem.

This isn’t the first time Windows Phone users have seen Snapchat clients disappear from Windows Phone. In July 2013, another Snapchat replacement called Swapchat was pulled from the Windows Phone Store due to a copyright complaint from Snapchat.

If you really need to share disposable messages, and all your friends are using Windows Phone, try Microsoft’s recently released Snapchat imitator, WindUp.

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