Facebook is going head to head with rival Snapchat in the video-chat app market as the social networking group scrambles to win back users from the popular ephemeral messaging app.
Facebook has been working for several months on the app, known internally as Slingshot, with a simple and speedy user interface, said people familiar with its plans.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief, has been overseeing the top-secret project after failing to woo Snapchat's creators Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy with a $3 billion takeover offer late last year.
The app allows users to send short video messages with just a couple of taps of the screen. Slingshot could be launched this month, one person said, while cautioning that Facebook might still decide not to proceed with the product.
Slingshot is likely to stand alone from Facebook Messenger, its popular texting app, as part of Mr Zuckerberg's strategy of unbundling the group's social network into standalone mobile services.
Facebook's first attempt to take on Snapchat directly came in December 2012 with Poke, an app that copied its rival's format of photos and videos that disappear up to 10 seconds after viewing. However, Poke failed to mimic Snapchat's popularity, and Facebook removed it from the App Store this month.
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The latest effort to take on Snapchat comes despite Facebook's subsequent acquisition of WhatsApp Messenger, another popular chat app with more than 500m regular users, for an initial outlay of $14.6 billion in cash and stock, based on Friday's closing price.
Analysts see the fast rise of simple messaging apps, such as WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, as one of Facebook's biggest competitive threats, especially among younger users, where the social network has admitted it is seeing some signs of declining usage.