Jun 11, 2020 - Technology

New Snap tools highlight pivot from messaging app to camera platform


Snapchat on Thursday introduced a slate of new products, tools and partnerships that move the company closer to being a platform for developers and businesses, rather than just a chat app for friends.

Why it matters: With increased investments in things like gaming and augmented reality, Snapchat's business is beginning to look more like that of the Chinese tech giants, which make money off of value-added services like in-app purchases, rather than just ads.

The big picture: The company's growth in the messaging space, while stable, is not big enough to give Snapchat the ability to compete with tech giants like Google and Facebook for ad revenue long term.

  • As a result, Snapchat is looking to build a developer ecosystem that revolves around its camera technology, which could help the company unlock new forms of revenue down the line.

What's new: Snapchat launched several new tools and shows Thursday at its second annual Partner Summit, broadcast virtually this year to creators, investors, partners and the media.

  • The company introduced a new "action bar," which acts like a search bar, for users to navigate all of the new products and tools that Snapchat has added.
  • The app has been redesigned slightly around the action bar to bolster user engagement with its camera in new, creative ways.
  • Snapchat also renewed several original content deals with ESPN, NBC and Disney, and debuted new shows with big-name hosts like Kevin Hart and Catherine Hardwicke.

For developers, Snapchat has created "Snap Minis," new tools that allow them to bring HTML5 experiences inside Snapchat to apps for Android and iOS.

  • Minis are designed to integrate within conversations on Snapchat, so friends can coordinate on things like buying concert tickets or meditating together.
  • Camera Kit allows developers to bring Snapchat’s AR capabilities and camera engagement into their own apps. That means they can integrate Snapchat Lenses (augmented reality filters), for example.
  • Lens Studio​ is a new, free desktop application designed for developers and artists to build and distribute AR Lenses on Snapchat. The company says there are over 1 million AR Lenses on its platform and that over 170 million Snapchatters engage with AR — nearly 30 times every day.

For users, Snap has created a slew of new features that make things like gaming and content consumption more interactive.

  • Bitmoji for Games, a cross-platform avatar for gaming, will begin rolling out today. This makes it easy for users to carry one avatar for themselves across all the games that they play online, giving them a more consistent gaming identity online.
  • Snap Games, which was first introduced last year as an interactive way for friends to play games on mobile, has evolved to include more first-party proprietary games created by Snapchat. This includes "Bitmoji Party," which Snap says is played for an average of 20 minutes per player.
  • Local Lenses is a new feature that allows users to create 3D worlds on top of their own neighborhoods, almost like an AR-driven version of Minecraft.
  • Scan will allow users to overlay AR lenses on top of anything they point their cameras at, whether it be a product or a landmark, that will provide them with more information about what they're looking at.

For publishers, Snapchat says it's continuing to invest in new shows and is doing more to pay publishing partners for their content.

  • Time spent watching shows in Snapchat's Discover content Tab has more than doubled year-over-year, with more than 60 shows reaching monthly audiences of over 10 million viewers in the first quarter of 2020, the company said.
  • The company has paid out 60% more revenue to its Discover publishing partners than it did last year.
  • To that end, Snapchat says that more than 125 million people have watched news stories on Snapchat this year alone

Between the lines: The company says it's doubling down on its commitment to health and wellbeing.

  • It's introduced new health and safety features across all of its products, including an integration with meditation app Headspace within its "Minis" developer kit.
  • Snapchat has also added new programming to its original content slate focused on addressing issues related to mental health.

By the numbers: Snap execs also unveiled new user metrics.

  • The company said it reached over 229 million daily active users on average in the first quarter of this year, with over 100 million in the U.S. alone. (That's larger than TikTok or Twitter's U.S. footprint.)
  • Its "Snap Map" feature reaches more than 200 million people every month.

Go deeper: Recap of Snapchat's first Partner Summit last year

Go deeper