Snapchat has today announced four new tools, including 'Groups' which enables you to add up to 16 participants to a group chat. And while the new options aren't revolutionary, they add new elements to the Snap process that might help keep it fresh in people's minds, particularly with Instagram adding new options like live-streaming to their experience.
Here's what's been announced.
Group chat is the biggest one - as noted by Snapchat:
"The holidays are a great time to hang out with friends and spend time with family - it's always better together! We couldn't think of a better time to announce Groups, a new way to communicate with up to 16 friends on Snapchat."
To create a Group chat, you select the Chat section in the app then tap on the people you want as participants in your group conversation. You can also name the Group if you choose.
(Image via Mashable)
Snapchat's also added an option called 'Quick Chat' within Groups - Quick Chat enables you to click on any member of a Group conversation to start (or continue) a private conversation with just that person, outside of the group discussion. You can then easily return to the Group by swiping back.
You can also send Snaps to a Group - once you've created a Group, it'll be listed in your send options. If you select more than one recipient for your Snap, the new Groups icon will appear at the top right of screen, prompting you to either select a group to send your Snap to, or to create one.
Other Group options include the ability to edit your group name, add members or leave the group.
As with regular Snaps, Chats sent to a Group are deleted by default after 24 hours and can be opened and replayed just once by each recipient. If a Snap isn't opened, it's deleted after 24 hours, just like Chats.
Snapchat users have been calling for a group chat and send option for some time, and the initial responses on Twitter suggest that it'll be a very welcome addition for the app.
Snapchat's also added a couple of new creative tools, the first of which is Scissors. With Scissors, you can cut out sections of your Snap and use them to create your own stickers, leading to unique works of art like this:
The new scissors icon is at the top left of your snap preview screen - if you're not seeing the option yet, you will soon, Snapchat says they're rolling it out slowly.
To use it, you tap on the icon, then drag an outline around the area you want to cut and use as a sticker. Then you can use that image over and over again, which should lead to some creative collages.
You can also use those same images in other Snaps once they've been created.
It's pretty cool, and will no doubt lead to a whole new level of selfies - and the subsequent misappropriation of them.
The second creative option is called 'Paintbrush' which, Snapchat says, "turns a Snap into an artistic masterpiece".
This is basically Snapchat's answer to Prisma and Facebook's fine art filters - you can use the Paintbrush on any of your Snaps in Memories or any photos you import from your camera roll. When you open up the Snap editing options on these, you'll see a new paintbrush option at the top of the screen.
Tap on it and it'll bring up 17 fine art themed filters you can use to transform your image.
Given we've already seen the same type of thing from the aforementioned apps, it's nothing new, but it's still an interesting addition, and a new way to change up your Snaps and give them a new lease of life.
The final update is a new integration with Shazam which enables users to identify songs playing nearby, and even listen to the full song from within Snapchat.
To use Shazam in Snapchat, press and hold on the camera screen when you hear a song playing that you want to know more about. The system will then identify the song via Shazam and you'll get a notification like this:
Songs you've 'Shazamed' appear in settings, enabling you to keep track of all the music you've tracked via Snap.
These are helpful, functional updates, with Groups in particular being a big addition which many Snapchat users will be happy about.
In terms of brand use, you can see some application for Groups - getting in touch with selected customers to inform them of promotions, for example, or using it to inform competition winners without having to individually send a Snap to each one - while the Scissors update, as shown, should lead to some more creative options. If you're using Snapchat, it's worth considering how you might be able to add these new tools into your process to create enhanced, unique experiences.
Snapchat is reportedly looking to launch an IPO early in the new year, at a valuation of between $20 to $25 billion. That's a huge price tag, and given the rising competition from Facebook, it seems a risk, but the platform has huge reach among younger users and is projected to be bringing in close to $1 billion in annual ad revenue in 2017. Still, as Facebook works to infiltrate international markets with Snapchat-like features, where Snapchat itself hasn't yet gained a foothold, Zuck and Co's efforts could eventually start to choke Snapchat's growth - and we've already seen how the market's response to Twitter's stagnant user growth. The exact same fate could be awaiting Snap Inc. While they, of course, also have Spectacles and are working on newer tools and features which could keep them ahead of the game, there are many challenges coming for Snapchat.
It'll be interesting to see what Evan Spiegel and Co come up with next.