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“Copied and pasted” app features

Most teenagers’ smartphones are filled with eye-catching icons that open our generation’s most-consumed social media apps. But when these apps and their corresponding websites copy features from each other, they take away from the experience of using social media.

Snapchat changed the social media game with the innovation of pictures that self-delete and “stories” that last 24 hours. However, Instagram recently co-opted these features with similar “stories” and disappearing direct messages. Both include options like time, date and location graphics, filters, emojis, text and drawing capabilities. Facebook Messenger has also borrowed elements from Snapchat with the inclusion of face filters and other special effects on photos.

Facebook and YouTube pioneered a unique technology with live videos. Again, Instagram recently incorporated this feature into their “stories,” and borrowed further from Snapchat, since these Instagram live videos self-delete. Facebook’s mobile app now looks suspiciously like YouTube, with a section specifically dedicated to watching and searching for videos.

Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessages both offer texters fun options to play games with each other or send special emojis and GIFs. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat now all offer ways for users to send messages to each other, even though there are already a plethora of apps dedicated specifically to messaging.

This trend—stealing ideas from each other—is unnecessary and detracts from the quality of apps across the board. People download certain apps for specific purposes, not for weak knock-offs of features that are already more well-known and well-used in a different app. Some overlap is inevitable, but apps succeed and become popular for their original functions. Developers would have more success sticking to those functions and focusing on refining a few things, rather than spreading themselves too thin over a large range of features.

Until the virtual world offers us one all-purpose app that covers every single one of our social and entertainment needs, Snapchat should be for sending ugly selfies and nondescript “streak” pictures, Instagram for obsessing over your feed aesthetic, Facebook for birthday posts from distant aunts, Twitter for desperately trying to hop on the latest meme bandwagon and the Grades app for Northwood students to cry alone in their bedrooms the night before finals.