Mirage is a free app for iPhone that lets you send photos and videos to friends that disappear after a few seconds never to be seen again. One tap on a friend and the photo or video is sent out, no questions asked. Does this sound a bit familiar? Yes, it's another app taking on the concept that made Snapchat so famous. Mirage adds a bit of its own flair, but what's important is if it is able to stand out from the crowd. It requires iOS 7.0 or later.
Sign up is relatively easy, requiring just your cell phone number (for verification) and a username. A profile photo is optional. The main Mirage screen features a perfectly square camera view and a list of friends toward the bottom, a bit reminiscent of Shoutout's design that we reviewed about a week ago.
Mirage lacks any buttons and instead relies on quick, instinctive use. Tap once on the camera view to flip the camera from the front to back and vice versa, double tap to add a caption and swipe to apply various filters. Then, just tap a person's thumbnail to snap a photo and send it all at once. Again, like Shoutout, there's no ability to actually preview the image you captured before it sends.
You won't get to see videos either, because to record a video you tap and hold the person you want to send the video to and lift your finger for it to automatically send. This is definitely a turn off for some people, but this method makes using the app faster - and notably faster than using Snapchat.
There aren't any settings to play with, not even to change the amount of seconds it takes for a photo you send to vanish. That's a bit disappointing. Videos are up to 15 seconds in length, which is a welcome increase from the 10 seconds Snapchat allows. 10 seconds very often feels like it's just under what's necessary to capture an entire thought, but then again, sometimes so does 140 characters on Twitter. Mirage also has a few unique filters which some other apps lack - mainly the unique part.
After using this app for just a small period of time, it became clear to me that sadly Mirage doesn't have anything really in particular to set itself apart from Snapchat. To be successful, it's going to take a lot more than what the current version of Mirage offers. An extra five seconds of video and the ability to send a photo to someone in one tap isn't enough.
Mirage does import your existing contacts, but if they haven't signed up for Mirage in place of the photo or video you send is a text message to them inviting them to join and view it.
By no means is Mirage a bad app. It's dead simple to use and has a great design, but what it also has is potential. In a world where Snapchat's closest competitor doesn't even manage to put a dent in Snapchat's own user base, Mirage needs to fulfill that potential in order to compete. With that said, I look forward to what the future holds. As of right now, Mirage is available for free in the App Store.