Snapchat reveals swathe of new features to ‘uplift community’

11 June 2020, 19:04

Snapchat's new Action Bar in the camera app
Action-Bar_2. Picture: PA

The camera app used its annual Snap Partner Summit to announce new features, including wellbeing tools, to offer more support to its userbase.

Snapchat wants to help “uplift its community” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice protests around the world, boss Evan Spiegel has said as the app launched a wave of new features.

The camera app and social media platform has announced a partnership with wellness platform Headspace, and is adding local businesses to its Snap Map, offering them free ad credits as they reopen after lockdown.

Unveiling the new features at its annual Snap Partner Summit, the firm also revealed a new Camera Kit which will allow other apps to incorporate the Snapchat camera into their own platforms and a new Voice Scan tool which enables users to request camera filters using their voice.

For example, by saying: “Hey Snapchat, make my hair pink.”

Snapchat's new Voice Scan feature, which allows users to apply filters using just their voice
Users can now add filters to images using voice controls (Snap)

Mr Spiegel, Snapchat’s co-founder and chief executive of parent company Snap, said new tools for user creativity and the ability to support others were vital to its success.

“We believe that the Snapchat generation will help create a world. Built on real friendship, shared success, positivity, and possibility. Putting people, the environment, and our values first,” he said.

“We are all kind, smart, and creative and we will build a brighter future together.”

“Amidst the many challenges we face including the global pandemic and the scourge of racial violence and injustice, we all share a desire to uplift our global community through the love we have for one another.”

At a time when other social media platforms have been scrutinised for their approach to misinformation and user safety in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Speigel praised Snapchat and its partners for “working hard to create timely, accurate content” and “providing resources for those who need help and finding innovative ways to entertain people”.

Among the new features on show was a new news section called Happening Now, which the company said would offer quick summaries of key news stories, sourced from “trusted news organisations” such as The Washington Post, Bloomberg and Reuters.

On the new partnership with Headspace, Mr Spiegel said the Snapchat app would soon contain “meditations and tools that help Snapchatters check in with their friends and family and stay healthy”, adding that “close friendships are the first line of defence during times of stress, anxiety and depression”.

Snapchat’s range of announcements included a design tweak to the app itself, with a new Action Bar being added to the bottom of the app screen to navigate to different areas of the platform – much like those used by other social media apps.

The app also announced a number of new mobile-form TV shows as part of its Snap Originals and Shows programming, and confirmed Channel 4 was among those now making content for the platform.

During his keynote, Mr Spiegel revealed Snapchat now had 229 million daily active users, and was bullish about the app’s performance compared to rival social platforms.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has clearly targeted Snapchat and its younger user base in recent years, introducing a number of features similar to those on Snapchat in an effort to lure users to its services.

Mr Spiegel said, however, that Snapchat was performing well against its rivals.

“Based on publicly available data, we reach more people in the US than Twitter and TikTok combined,” he said.

“In Q1 we reached more 13-34-year-olds in the US than Facebook or Instagram.”

By Press Association

Happening Now