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(Pocket-lint) - Nine months after Snapchat overhauled its chat experience, it has launched a new chat feature: Groups.

Groups is basically a way for you to chat in groups. Snapchat said it announced the feature just in time for the holidays because it's a "great time to hang out with friends and spend time with family". With Groups, you can communicate with up to 16 friends at once in Snapchat.

Here's everything you need to know about the new feature.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo- and video-messaging app. It is unique in that all photos and videos only last a brief amount of time before they disappear forever, making the app ephemeral in nature, though you can take a screenshot of all the snaps you receive to save them in picture form. You can also save your own snaps before sending them to friends or you story. You can learn more about Snapchat from Pocket-lint's in-depth guide.

What is Snapchat Groups?

Group are a lot like one-on-one chats, but they can include up to 16 group members. Also, chats sent to a group are deleted by default after 24 hours. Snaps sent to a group can be opened and replayed just once by each recipient, but then it'll be deleted after 24 hours as well.

How does Snapchat Groups work?

Starting a group chat

Groups can be created while sending a snap, or when you’re making a new chat.

Simply open the Chat screen and tap on the New Chat icon. Then, pick a few friends, and tap Chat. You can only add people to a group if you’re both friends on Snapchat. To send snaps directly to a group after taking a snap, tap the send button, and choose a group in the Send To screen. Everyone in the group will be able to see that you sent the snap, as well as who's read it.

Determine if you're in a group chat

To determine if a chat is actually a group chat, look for the sparkle/friend emoji next to the group name in your Chat screen.

Adjust group chat settings

To access group chat settings, tap the menu icon in the upper left hand corner.

From there, you can see who’s in the group, rename the group, mute notifications, add someone, or even leave the group. If you choose to leave, the snaps and chats you sent will be cleared, even if someone saved them in chat.

See who's in your group chat

When group members open the group chat, their name will light up inside a bubble above your keyboard to let you know they’re present. You can tap on a friend’s name bubble to start a quick chat or even add them if you haven't already.

See who's read a chat or snap

Tap or press and hold on any chat to see who’s read it, saved it, etc. When someone opens a snap, their name will appear below it in chat. Chats and snaps will be deleted after 24 hours unless saved. Also, snaps sent to a group can be opened and replayed once by each recipient. 

Quick chat with a friend

Tap any name at the bottom of a group chat to start a one-on-one chat with that person. You can always return to the group in one swipe.

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Writing by Elyse Betters.