First there was Snapchat. Then there was Facebook's Slingshot. And now there's WindUp, from Microsoft.
The Microsoft Research team has released an app called WindUp. It lets Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 device owners send self-destructing messages to friends. According to the app's description, WindUp users can "create and share fun, temporary messages and media with friends". Types of messages include pictures, videos, audio snippets, and text - and they'll all disappear after a short while. Users just have to set a time limit.
Although WindUp doesn't have Snapchat's live-video chat feature, it's still very much an ephemeral messaging app. These apps are currently all the rage among teenagers and young adults. It started with the launch of Snapchat in late 2011, followed by the advent of similar apps such as Facebook Poke. Poke was a dud, but Facebook tried again recently with an app called Slingshot. No word yet if Slingshot is doing well, but apparently Microsoft has now decided to take a stab.
Microsoft selected the name WindUp because of the app's timer interface and the somewhat fierce feeling of tension that it tries to evoke between friends: "Set a low limit to 'wind up' your friends as they race to see what you've posted, or set the limit high to make your message last longer," explained the Microsoft Research team.
Microsoft Research typically focuses on studying social science and machine learning, so the fact that it developed an app is a bit of a head scratcher. It does however have a few other apps under its belt including the college student-aimed social network Socl. Keep in mind as well that there isn't a Snapchat app yet available in the Windows Phone Store, so maybe Microsoft just wanted to offers its teen device owners a similar experience.
That said, Joe Belfiore, design lead at Microsoft, claimed earlier this year that Microsoft was talking wth Snapchat about a version of the app for Windows Phone. It's not clear if those talks are still leading somewhere, but with WindUp now out, we'd guess probably not.
Check out the gallery below for WindUp screenshots.