Introducing Snapatar: Update your Twitter avatar from your webcam

Twitter by it’s very nature is a very limited service. That’s what’s fun about it. Some people manage to be really clever and witty in 140 characters. But there’s only so much you can express in a tweet. The other main way to express your personality on Twitter is through your avatar image (or ‘profile picture’ as Twitter calls them).

Snapatar screenshot

Many of the people I follow have carefully designed avatars that they don’t change very often. But what if you could have your avatar be as current as your tweets. Showing you exactly the way you look today, doing what you’re doing right now? That’s where Snapatar comes in.

Snapatar lets you create a new Twitter profile image from your webcam in two very easy steps. You snap a picture, and if it looks right to you you enter your Twitter account details and upload it. That’s all. You can do this as often as you like, there’s currently no API limit for avatar updates. Of course it’s also a great way to create your first avatar if you’re new to Twitter and don’t have one yet.

Two days ago, Snapatar was nothing but a vague notion in my head. I’d thought of it while on vacation, and when I couldn’t find a similar service I decided to see if I could create a proof of concept application. I soon enlisted the help of my PHP guru Bernalyn, and from there things started to really gain momentum. This post is meant to announce the project to the world, and I hope we’ll get some Twitter users to try it. It’s still pretty beta, so we’d love to know what you run into. Please post any errors you come across, suggestions and feedback in the comments.

(Oh and yes, I know I need a better webcam…)


  1. It doesn’t work on a Mac! 😉 (Firefox 3.0.12 + MacBook Pro running Leopard)

    Comment by YaWie — July 23, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  2. @YaWie: What issue are you running into? Do you have the latest Flash plugin installed?

    EDIT: I added a little button in the top right corner that lets you select the right camera. This will help Mac users (and probably anyone with more than one video device).

    Comment by Roy — July 23, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  3. No OAuth? This is so 2008! 😛

    Comment by Rémi — July 23, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Hi Rémi. We’re looking into that. We’ve set this up with basic authentication for now because it’s easier and it means we can stay on the same page. And even Twitter’s own AS3 libraries don’t use oAuth…

    What i really don’t want is for users to have to sign in before they can play with the webcam. I like how really simple this looks (and is) right now. Images aren’t currently stored anywhere, and there are no page reloads or things like sessions or cookies. We’d need some of that for oAuth, and it would still make the user experience worse.

    Comment by Roy — July 24, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  5. Link: Snapatar: Tu foto de la Webcam a Twitter « Locomentarios
  6. Hey Roy,

    Snapatar worked great. Thanks for the cool application!

    Comment by Jeramy — July 28, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  7. This would be really cool as a smartphone app, too!

    Comment by Kristin — August 8, 2009 @ 1:23 am