Facebook Tests Yet Another Snapchat-Like Feature With Messenger ‘Streaks’

Facebook is continuing its seemingly relentless trend of copying Snapchat with the testing of a new feature that plays on the latter's streak feature, which encourages users to "keep your streak going" when messaging friends.

Facebook Messenger streaks include an emoji status to indicate friends that a user is currently in a streak with – who they've messaged for at least two days in a row – and encourages them to keep chatting to keep the streak alive.


A spokesperson for Facebook Messenger who spoke to Mashable confirmed its testing of the feature, saying it was a way "to see at a glance fun facts about the people you message with".
"For example, a lightning bolt may appear next to the name of a person you've messaged with for at least three days in a row, and a counter will indicate how many consecutive days you've been chatting. We're interested to see if people enjoy this insight, but we don't have any additional information to share at this time."
Streaks have been a popular feature with younger Snapchat users for some time, with many seeing them as a fun, addictive challenge to see how long they can make a streak last for. Whether or not the trend catches on with the wider age demographic of Messenger users is a different proposition, and will undoubtedly dictate the chances of a wider rollout.

In its last straight-up feature clone, Facebook created a facsimile of Snapchat's day-long, vanishing post idea in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which gained 100 million users following the Snapchat-like update last year.


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Snapchat Plans Radical Overhaul to Make Social Platform Easier to Understand

Longtime Snapchat users should prepare themselves for a radical overhaul of the way the mobile app works, based on comments made by Snap CEO Evan Spiegel in his earnings letter to investors on Tuesday.

With the company falling short of lowered projections for growth, Snap put much of the blame on the fact that the social platform is simply a mystery to outsiders. "One thing we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use," wrote Spiegel. "Our team has been working on responding to this feedback."


Few details were provided on the planned redesign, but Snapchat said it was working on an algorithm to show people a more personalized version of the stories they might want to see.
"We are developing a new solution that provides each of our 178 million daily active users with their own Stories experience," wrote Spiegel, "leveraging the tremendous benefits of machine learning without compromising the editorial integrity of the Stories platform that we have worked so hard to build."
Spiegel said that the changes would make it easier for users to see content from people who aren't their friends, but that private conversations between close friends would remain a bulwark of the app.

The esoteric nature of the social platform has apparently moved Snap to make these drastic changes, but the danger is that it could alienate existing users. However, Spiegel said the company was willing to bear the consequences.
"There is a strong likelihood that the redesign of our application will be disruptive to our business in the short term, and we don't yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application," Spiegel said in his prepared remarks to investors. "We're willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business."
Snap's third quarter revenue was $207.9 million, not the $235.5 million analysts had predicted. Shares fell as much as 22 percent in extended trading as a result, before recovering slightly to trade down 17 percent.

Sales estimates for Snap have been dropping since its March initial public offering, with the company apparently unable to clearly explain to advertisers how Snapchat works, despite providing investors with detailed instructions during its initial PO. The lack of a news feed and no ability to share, like, or comment on posts has apparently proved a stumbling block.

Against this backdrop, Facebook's habit of copying Snapchat features and building them into its own apps has only weakened the uniqueness of Snap's offering in the social media landscape - a key factor of the company's business model. It remains to be seen exactly what a redesign will mean for Snapchat and its users, and no timeline for the rollout has been made public.

Tags: Snapchat, Snap

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‘Stranger Things’ Game Update and Snapchat AR Experience Mark Season 2 Debut on Netflix

Stranger Things: The Game received a feature update on Friday, coinciding with the hit TV series' season two debut on Netflix. Version 1.0.252 of the free retro-style sci-fi adventure game brings a new playable character to the Arcade and a brand new Hawkins High School dungeon.


Elsewhere, there are new quests to be gained from the Florist and the Hawk Theater Attendant, while players have another opportunity to get a 100 percent score thanks to a slew of new collectibles. In the words of the game's official blurb:
Things are stranger than ever in the town of Hawkins. Mike and the gang have new neighbors. Visit the Arcade to meet the new kid. Explore the Upside Down Gates that have opened around town. Solve the all-new throwback adventure in Hawkins High School.
Continuing the Stranger Things 2 theme, Snapchat today launched a new World Lens portal that takes users into an Upside Down version of Joyce Bryers' living room through an augmented reality doorway.

The room features several nods to the first season of Stranger Things, including fairy lights, alphabet graffiti, and a gaping hole in the living room wall. Interactive easter eggs and surprises scattered around the AR environment can also be discovered by tapping on objects.


To open the Upside Down lens in Snapchat, activate rear camera mode, tap the screen, and select the first sponsored effect in the list at the bottom of the interface. The lens can also be unlocked using Shazam in the Snapchat app when the Stranger Things them tune plays.

Two additional Stranger Things lenses are set to debut later in the day. To get the full augmented reality effect of the World Lenses, Snapchat users need to be using an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 11 installed.


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Snapchat for iOS Gains Link Sharing From Third-Party Apps and New ‘Ghost Mode’

Snapchat for iOS received a somewhat significant update today that's designed to allow users to share links or photos from third-party apps with friends and to set a specific timer for location sharing.

Starting today, iOS users can use the Share Sheet in an app like Twitter or Safari to share links to content in a direct Snapchat message. The update makes sharing content simpler, as there's no need to copy and paste a link from an app.

Snapchat has also added a "Ghost Mode" that lets users temporarily disable location sharing for three or 24 hours, a feature that's been introduced as an alternative to permanently disabling location sharing features.

The app is also being updated with a new feature that lets you tap and hold on a person's name anywhere in Snapchat to access their Stories.
What's New in Version 10.20.0.0
- Press and hold on a friend's name to watch their Story, send them a Snap, and more.
- Tap the share button in another app to send links or photos to friends on Snapchat. If Snapchat doesn't appear in the share menu, tap (...) to add it!
- Choose how long you'd like to remain in Ghost Mode on the Snap Map.
In other related Snapchat news, a report today from The Information suggests Snapchat parent company Snap overestimated demand for its $130 camera-equipped Spectacles and is now left with hundreds of thousands of Spectacles and Spectacles components that are sitting in warehouses.


Earlier this month, Snap CEO Evan Speigel said Snap had sold more than 150,000 Spectacles. According to The Information, Snap now has a 150-person hardware team, but what's in development is not clear.


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Snapchat Gains Context Cards for Adding More Info to Snaps

Snapchat today introduced a new feature called Context Cards, designed to add more information and functionality to your Snaps. Context Cards offer quick access to options like location information, directions, reviews, and ride sharing services.


Context Cards can be accessed by swiping up on any Snap that has a "More" option, with the info attached to Snaps tagged with venue-specific Geofilters or submitted to Our Story.

Snaps will display reviews, directions, phone numbers, and more from partners that include Tripadvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, and goop, while integrations with Uber and Lyft allow you to summon a ride and OpenTable, Resy, or Bookatable let you make restaurant reservations.


Snapchat says many locations will have Stories integrated into their Context Cards to make it easier to find Snaps from places nearby, with the Snaps made up of stories submitted by the Snapchat community.

At launch, Context Cards will be available in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, and New Zealand, and Snapchat plans to expand its content partners going forward.


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Snapchat Gains Augmented Reality ‘Sky Filters’ for Adding Virtual Weather Effects to Photos

Snapchat is gaining a new feature called "Sky Filters," which are able to detect the sky in an image and then layer different effects on top, much like Snapchat's existing face-based filters.

Snapchat told TechCrunch that the new filters are rolling out starting today on iOS an Android. Available filters will rotate on a daily basis and will include virtual weather, sunsets, stars, rainbows, storm clouds, and more.


The new filters will be accessible with a swipe upwards on a photo like other filters so long as Snapchat recognizes the presence of a sky in the image.

In the future, Snapchat's filters will be able to take advantage of advanced face tracking capabilities using the TrueDepth Camera in the iPhone X. While this won't affect Snapchat's environment-based filters, it will make the company's face-related features far more realistic-looking.

Snapchat can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Snapchat

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PSA: Snapchat Still Notifies You When Someone Screen Records Privately Messaged Snaps on iOS 11

One new feature in iOS 11 lets you easily record the screen of your iPhone as you navigate around the user interface, which can be useful when trying to help someone remotely troubleshoot an iOS problem or when making videos to share online. Since iOS 11 officially launched to the public yesterday, many users on Twitter and other sites have begun to worry that people will be able to screen record their Snapchats and Instagram Direct messages without notifications warning them of such activities taking place.

While it appears that such is the case for Instagram Direct, Snapchat will still let you know when someone is screen recording your privately messaged snaps. Thanks to a tipster who emailed us this morning, we decided to test out sending both still images and videos through the two previously mentioned apps, and discovered that Snapchat treats iOS 11's screen recording feature just as it does for taking a screenshot.

After using screen recording, the sender (left) is shown in-app screenshot icons and the receiver (right) gets notified

If your iPhone is locked, you'll get a push notification saying someone "took a screenshot!" of either your photo or video, and if you're within the app then Snapchat will still display the double-crossed arrows and let you know that the receiver took a "screenshot just now." So, while Snapchat isn't able to directly tell you that it's a screen recording on iOS 11, you'll still know that your DMs are being saved. Stories, on the other hand, appear to be less abiding to the screen recording/screenshot notification system, at least for now.

Instagram Direct doesn't yet appear to have such a feature for iOS 11 screen recording warnings. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Direct lets you send disappearing photos and videos to other users, and includes a screenshot notification whenever the recipient captures the content you sent privately.

In tests on iOS 11, neither photos nor videos captured via screen recording in Instagram Direct told the sender that such an action had taken place. If screen recording becomes a bigger issue for these private messaging apps, and others like them, it's likely that developers will begin to implement more direct warning systems for users to look out for.

Take a look at our guide for iOS 11 screen recording to learn more about the new feature, and then check out our complete iOS 11 Roundup for all of the major -- and minor -- additions that were introduced in the new software update.

Thanks, Joshua!


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Snapchat’s World Lens Filters Now Include Augmented Reality Bitmoji

Snapchat will now allow users to view their Bitmoji characters in augmented reality, through an addition to its previous "World Lens" feature. With the update, Bitmoji will be able to do yoga, skateboard, drink coffee, and more, all taking place in real-world surroundings in AR (via TechCrunch).

Image via TechCrunch

Similar to Snapchat's popular dancing hotdog character, the Bitmoji will anchor to a spot in the environment and allow the user to walk around the characters for multiple angles and photo/video moments. They will be able to grow larger and smaller by swiping up and down on the screen, and multiple animation options will be available for users to choose from. Some of these will last longer than ten seconds, meaning Snapchat's multi-snap feature will be needed to string longer clips together.

Snapchat was featured briefly during Apple's September 12 media event, where Craig Federighi demoed a few face filters in the social media app. On iPhone X and iOS 11, Snapchat's filters -- and other AR experiences like the new World Lens Bitmoji -- will be improved thanks to the advanced front-facing camera sensors of the iPhone X, and ARKit in iOS 11.


The AR Bitmoji feature is rolling out globally on iOS beginning today, with Android users planned to receive the update sometime in the future. To be able to use the Bitmoji in World Lenses, users will first have to download the Bitmoji app and create their own character.


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Snapchat’s New ‘Crowd Surf’ Feature Stitches Together Users’ Concert Videos

Snapchat is currently trialling a new concert-related feature on the platform that stitches together individual video clips from different users to create one seamless video.

Called Crowd Surf, the feature uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to work out when multiple users are actively recording the same event.

By combining the two technologies, Crowd Surf is able to match clips from various users filming at different angles in close proximity, and then overlay the environmental audio seamlessly, creating what's essentially a multi-camera video clip.

Users who later watch the video can then tap a button in the lower right of the clip to switch between angles, or simply sit back and let the transitions take place automatically as the action unfolds.


According to TechCrunch, the feature made its debut on the platform during a Lorde concert in San Francisco on Monday, the results of which can be viewed in the Featured section below the list of stories.

Snapchat says the Crowd Surf feature is still being tested, but will gradually be rolled out to coincide with more high profile events such as concerts and public speeches going forward.

Snapchat can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Snapchat

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Snapchat Debuts New ‘Snap Map’ Location Sharing Feature

Snapchat for iOS was today updated with a new "Snap Map" feature that's designed to let Snapchat users share their current location with their friends, facilitating real-life meet ups.

With the new Snap Map, all of your friends with location sharing enabled will show up on an in-app map with either photos or "Actionmoji" avatars marking each friend location. For those who do not want to share their location, Snapchat is including a "Ghost Mode." Location is only updated when Snapchat is open, so it's not tracking in the background.

We've built a whole new way to explore the world! See what's happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!

It's easy to get started -- just pinch to zoom out and view the Map! You decide if you want to share your location with friends, or simply keep it to yourself with Ghost Mode.

If your friends are sharing their location with you, their Actionmoji will appear on the Map. Actionmojis only update when you open Snapchat.
Snap Map in Snapchat is available on iOS and Android devices starting today. Snapchat for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Snapchat

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