Snapchat Launches ‘Create Your Own Lens’ Studio Within iOS App, Adds New Caption Styles for Snaps

Yesterday Snapchat announced its first-ever live television event coverage, aimed at key highlights coming out of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Today, the company is revealing an enhanced version of its custom Geofilters with a new paid "Create Your Own Lens" studio that lets users build and edit their own personalized selfie Lenses for major events and parties.

Snapchat's "Create Your Own Lens" on iOS

Available today in the iOS app and on the web, the new section of Snapchat will allow users to create their own custom selfie Lenses and Filters, which friends and family members within a designated location will then be able to use in their own Snapchat apps. The studio includes over 150 templates at launch, amassed from Snapchat's well-known selfie Lenses and Filters that have previously appeared in the camera section of the app.

"Create Your Own Lens" on the web

Users will be able to navigate to "Settings" in the iOS app, select "Filters and Lenses," choose their desired Filter or Lens, customize it with text, enter the time of the event with the location, and checkout at least three hours before the event begins. The company said that prices for each creation start at $9.99, and vary due to factors like location size and duration. As of now, Snapchat is keeping the Create Your Own Lens studio aimed at consumers only, and noted that brands trying to use it for advertising purposes will not get their submissions approved.

In the same update, Snapchat users on both iOS and Android will begin seeing new caption styles today and a new user interface to go along with them. Previously, Snapchat had two styles -- a bar of text and resizable text -- but now users will gain access to Brush, Italic, Glow, Gradient, Rainbow, Fancy, Old English, and more. Caption styles will now be located under the text entry field in a horizontal bar that users can swipe through to choose their preferred text option, and two different styles can be placed on the same Snap.


Snapchat's series of updates this week come after the company announced that it increased to 187 million daily active users in the fourth quarter of 2017, up from 178 million during the third quarter. Snapchat has been fighting to gain new users after rival Instagram introduced its own Stories format in 2016, and in September 2017 Instagram reached 500 million daily active users (for both traditional posts and Stories).

iOS users should start seeing the new update rolling out to the Snapchat app [Direct Link] throughout the day.


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Snapchat Announces Live Feature for Major Events Coverage, Starting With 2018 Winter Olympics

Snap Inc. today announced an all-new Live feature that will allow users of the iOS and Android apps to stream key snippets of major televised events, the first partner being NBCUniversal in time for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Beginning this Saturday, February 10, Snapchat users will see these live streams of the Olympics in the app's Discover page. NBCUniversal will also be Snapchat's first media partner to create custom Context Cards surrounding a major live event. These cards include behind the scenes looks at the event from athletes, schedule of the Games, earned medals for nations and individual athletes, and more.


Snapchat has provided live coverage of events like this before, including during the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the company said that the new initiative is a significant expansion of its efforts in this space, as well as its partnership with NBCUniversal. The coverage will include two original shows from NBC Sports as well, called Pipe Dreams and Chasing Gold, which were created exclusively for Snapchat.

The Olympic updates will start on Friday, February 9 with themed lenses, filters, and stickers, before the new Live feature launches on Saturday. Snap said this coverage will last throughout the Olympics and users can expect one major moment from the Games to be shared on the app every day. As Live support for the Olympics debuts, the company is also still rolling out a major app redesign to its user base around the world.

The Olympic-related news comes one day after Snap's latest earnings call, during which it reported that it increased to 187 million daily active users worldwide in the quarter that ended December 31, 2017. That's a rise from 178 million in the third quarter of the year, and reportedly convinced investors that Snapchat "can survive competition" with rival Instagram.


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Twitter ‘Taking Cues’ From Snapchat and Testing Update That Makes the Camera More Accessible

Twitter is "experimenting" with a new update to its mobile iOS and Android apps that is said to make it easier for users to share videos and photos on the social network.

According to people familiar with the matter, speaking with Bloomberg, the update is still in an early testing phase and could "change significantly" over the next few months, but comes at a time when Twitter is looking to attract more users and convince current users to stick around. The exact design of the update wasn't specified, but Twitter is said to have a working demo of a "camera-centered" update that will "entice people" to quickly and easily post video clips of what's happening near them.

The current method of accessing the camera to post photos and videos on Twitter for iOS

Bloomberg compared the description of the camera feature to Snapchat's mobile apps, which open to the camera first so users can quickly take snaps. In 2016, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that the network can be confusing to newcomers and called Snapchat "very modern." To be clear, it doesn't appear that Twitter aims to launch "Twitter Stories," but is simply looking to rearrange its app in a way that allows for more prominent placement of the camera.
Twitter Inc. is working on a new Snapchat-style feature that makes it easier to post videos on the social-media company’s app, according to people familiar with the matter, aiming to attract more users and cement a nascent turnaround.

Social-media leader Facebook Inc. has famously copied innovations from Snap Inc.’s Snapchat, a mobile app focused on ephemeral photos and videos that’s popular with younger audiences. Twitter’s latest change suggests that Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey is taking cues from the newer company as well.
Currently, to post a video or photo on the Twitter iOS app, users have to open the app, tap to compose a tweet, tap "camera," capture a video or photo, add it to the tweet, then tap "Tweet." Those near Twitter's testing of the new feature claimed that "the goal of this product is to reduce the number of steps," aligning it with Snapchat's camera-first user interface.

Video has become a priority for many social media companies over the past few years, including Facebook's frequent updates that introduced an Apple TV video-only app, a dedicated video tab for the iOS app, and a simple right-swipe UI to jump into the camera on iOS and post a Snapchat-style Story. Instagram has a similar right-swipe interaction to launch the camera, and was the first of Facebook's apps to begin the copying of Snapchat Stories back in 2016.


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Snapchat to Start Letting Users Share Discover Stories Outside of App, Personal Stories Remain in App Only

Snap Inc. has announced that users will now be able to share the Discover section's Official Stories, unpartnered Our Stories, and Search Stories with anyone who isn't on Snapchat. The company confirmed to MacRumors that this Story sharing feature does not cover the sharing of a user's own personal Stories outside of the app.

To share a Story, Snapchat users can tap and hold on tiles in Discover, and then they'll notice a new "share" prompt on the Story's mini-profile. After choosing to "Share Story," users can decide to send it via text message, email, Facebook, Twitter, or copy the link. For those who click on the link, they'll be taken to a new Story player on Snapchat's website.

Images via Snap Inc.

Stories viewed on the web will retain Snapchat's ephemerality, so Our Stories and Search Stories will be viewable outside of the app for 30 days, while Official Stories will last for the traditional 24 hours. Each link includes a "Download Snapchat" button, encouraging those who visit the Story and who aren't on the social network to try it out.

Beginning this week, the new addition will be rolling out to those iOS and Android Snapchat users already on the redesigned app. Then, the update will continue to expand across the globe in the coming weeks in tandem with the redesign's expansion.


The company first revealed its major redesign in November 2017, with the aim to separate a user's personal friends from brand content. The update, which Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel said is a way to "separate the social from the media," began slowly rolling out to users following that announcement, but many still remain on the app's previous user interface.


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Snapchat Copies Facebook Feature For Once With ‘A Look Back at 2017’

Snapchat today turned the tables on Facebook for once by mimicking one of the social media giant's favorite features – your year in review, based on photos and videos posted in the last 12 months.

The feature can be accessed using the memories icon at the bottom of Snapchat's home screen interface. Selecting "A Look Back at 2017" automatically generates a Story around your timeline of pictures, but the arrangement can be tweaked by selecting "Edit Story" and tapping the X on individual snaps to remove them from the collage. The Story can then be saved and shared with friends.

Image via The Verge

As The Verge notes, the "Look Back" feature may not appear if there isn't enough media from the last 12 months to create a story, so only avid Snapchat users are likely to see it.

Facebook continued its seemingly relentless trend of copying Snapchat features last month, when it began testing a new feature that plays on the latter's chat streak challenge, which encourages users to "keep your streak going" when messaging friends.

Prior to that, Facebook created a carbon copy of Snapchat's day-long, vanishing post idea in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which gained 100 million users following the update last year. The company also previously aped Snapchat's face filters and rewinded video features for Instagram, which also proved a hit.

Today's feature debut follows news yesterday that Snapchat is testing a feature which will let users share stories outside of the mobile app, in an effort to boost sign-ups to the app.


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Snapchat Stories May Soon Be Shared Online Like Embedded Tweets

Snap is reportedly working on a new Snapchat feature that will let users share stories outside of the mobile app, in an effort to boost Snapchat's presence in the social media space (via The Verge).

Called "Stories Everywhere", the feature should see Snapchat's premium video and editorial content appear on news sites and elsewhere online. The move aims to bring greater visibility to the brand, in the face of increasing competition from the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

Live streaming news network Cheddar reports that former Storyful CEO and News Corp executive Rahul Chopra is leading the "Stories Everywhere" project. Chopra's job is to attract more active users to the social platform – similar to how, in 2011, Twitter began letting people embed tweets off-platform for the first time, for example.

The strategy comes at the end of a bad year for Snap, which saw third quarter revenue fall after its March initial public offering failed to excite investors, many of which struggled to understand how the app works. In response, the company earlier this month released a redesigned Snapchat app that aims to offer a more personalized user experience that's easier to navigate, especially for new users, with brand and friends' content kept separate.


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Snapchat Launches Mac App to Let Creatives Build Customized Augmented Reality Effects

Snapchat today announced "Lens Studio," an all-new application for Mac and Windows computers that lets creatives and developers create their own augmented reality effects. Although anyone can use Lens Studio, the company noted that it was built with tools aimed at those who "dabble" in 2D animation effects, as well as professional artists.


With the Mac app users can create a fully realized Snapchat AR effect, similar to the popular dancing hot dog from last summer. The app offers templates and guidelines to get started, and both 2D and 3D objects can be created. Snapchat also provides scripting API within Lens Studio so that developers can code their own fully interactive experiences.

All Snapchat users on Lens Studio can make World Lenses for Snapchat that use the rear-facing camera on a smartphone. The company also partnered with seven AR development agencies, who will be able to build both World Lenses as well as face effects on the front-facing camera.


Once a World Lens effect is complete, the app gives out a special Snapcode that can be shared anywhere and allows Snapchat users to scan and unlock the custom Lens. From there, they can interact with it, take photos and videos, and post the content to their Story or send it to a friend.
With the launch of Lens Studio, we’re excited to make Lenses more accessible to creators, and experiences within Snapchat more personal and diverse. We’ve seen how much more fun Geofilters have become since first inviting the community to create their own three years ago — and can’t wait to see what you build with Lens Studio!
Lens Studio is a free download on both Mac and Windows, which you can download from Snapchat's website right here.


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Snapchat Unveils Redesigned App Aimed at Separating Your Best Friends From Brand Content

Following an op-ed shared on Axios earlier this morning by CEO Evan Spiegel, Snapchat has now unveiled its radical redesign with the goal of creating a personalized user experience that's easier to navigate, particularly for new users (via TechCrunch). The app's update will start to roll out to iOS and Android users on Friday, and will be introduced to everyone "within a few weeks."

The update aggregates both Stories and direct messages into one place, to the left of the main camera section of the app, and an algorithm sorts and prioritizes this section by "who you talk to and view most." This personalized content is now separate from premium publishers, celebrity Snapchatters, and aggregated Story events in "Discover" to the right of the camera, where Stories were located previously.

Images via TechCrunch

According to Spiegel, this is an attempt to "separate the social from the media" and ensure that it's simpler to keep up with your real friends and not be inundated with things you might not care about created by brands and influencers.
With the upcoming redesign of Snapchat, we are separating the social from the media, and taking an important step forward towards strengthening our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media. This will provide a better way for publishers to distribute and monetize their Stories, and a more personal way for friends to communicate and find the content they want to watch.
The Discover area is curated by Snapchat employees but is also affected by an algorithm that will sort content based on your past viewing behavior, which Spiegel stated is inspired by Netflix's recommendation algorithms. Spiegel said that research has shown "your past behavior is a far better predictor of what you're interested in than anything your friends are doing," referencing rival companies like Facebook and Twitter.


All of this borders the camera section of the app, which you'll still see first when you open Snapchat. Navigation is made simpler thanks to icons that push you to specific sections of the app from this launch menu, including more obvious buttons for My Story, adding friends, Snap Map, and more.

The biggest change comes on the Friends page and its combination of Stories and direct messages. When you come to this area of Snapchat, you'll first see new Snaps and messages at the top, then Stories from close friends (who you watch and chat with the most), and then last will be other Stories from friends you don't interact with as much. Auto-advancing is back but with a new quality of life fix that provides a brief title screen that pops up with the name of the next friend in the queue, which you can easily swipe to skip.

Snapchat has been facing intense competition from Instagram and its own Stories feature, which it launched in August 2016. The Facebook-owned company's version of Stories quickly caught on with users and eventually managed to capture more daily active users than Snapchat in less than a year.


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Snapchat Debuts New Filters That Automatically Recognize Food, Concerts, Pets, Beaches, and Sports

Snapchat over the weekend quietly began launching a new intelligent image recognition feature in its app, first spotted by Mashable. The feature automatically recognizes certain objects and events when you snap a picture of them, and provides you with appropriate filters and borders for your images when you scroll through editing options. At launch, recognizable objects include concerts, beaches, pets, sports, and food.


Snapchat's image recognition is meant to be used when you are taking pictures of real objects and animals, but it also appears to work for more generic images found on the internet. A Snapchat spokesperson told MacRumors that image processing takes place locally on your iPhone, and the company will continuously improve the feature with better accuracy and quality of the recommendations as more people use it.

The update is launching ahead of Snapchat's imminent redesign, which CEO Evan Spiegel has stated will be a direct response to users who claim the app is difficult to understand. In an earnings letter shared earlier in November, Spiegel said that "our team has been working on responding to this feedback," and the redesign has been hinted at including algorithmic feeds in the Stories section of the app.


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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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