With Facebook closing in, Snap is taking steps to stay ahead and it's adding a new augmented reality feature to Snapchat: World Lenses.

Snapchat filters proved to be popular and Snap is now taking things to the next level, allowing users to enjoy colorful live filters for basically everything they can capture with their smartphone's camera.

Augmented reality has come a long way and become more mainstream thanks to the immensely popular Pokémon GO, enriching the surrounding world with virtual effects that mingle with real-life elements.

Snapchat World Lenses

With World Lenses, Snapchat users can add 3D cartoon elements to their photos and videos, overlaying the digital objects onto the physical world. Snapchat launched lenses back in 2015, allowing users to add filters to their selfies and the feature proved to be widely popular. Those selfie filters added a splash of color and made things more fun, drawing more users to the platform and stirring a frenzy of face swaps, puppy faces, and more.

World Lenses now bring more live filters that can spice up virtually anything, not just selfies. In other words, rather than changing how people look, the new World Lenses change how the world looks.

For instance, you can drop a virtual rainbow anywhere, resize it to make it as big or as little as you want, and even walk around it or under it on video. The feature has been in testing for a couple of months and it's now ready to roll out to the public. It's notably more interactive than the face swaps Snapchat users fell in love with and will likely start a whole new trend of customized Snaps.

"While Snapping with the rear-facing camera, simply tap the camera screen to find new Lenses that can paint the world around you with new 3D experiences," says Snap.

Snapchat Update To Fend Off Competition

Facebook has been closing in on Snapchat, copying various features to offer a Snapchat-like experience on its various services including Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and the main Facebook app.

Just recently, for instance, Instagram Stories managed to reach an impressive milestone and surpass Snapchat, hitting 200 million users. In fact, although Instagram Stories launched as a blatant Snapchat Stories clone, it stomped Snapchat's user growth from day one.

Back in February, before it filed for a $3 billion IPO, Snap made its S-1 financial filing public and disclosed that it started seeing a drop in user growth in the second quarter of 2016. Snapchat user growth then plateaued in the second half of the third quarter, but started picking up steam again in December.

While there are a number of factors influencing Snapchat's market performance, there's no denying that increased competition from Facebook, particularly through Instagram, has taken a heavy toll.

The new World Lenses should help Snapchat get an edge in the competition and get back ahead, but it may not take long until rivals clone this feature as well. Nevertheless, the World Lenses do breathe some new life into Snapchat and make things more fun.

To get a better idea of what it's all about, check of Snapchat's demo video below. If you already got the update and tried the new World Lenses, drop by our comment section and tell us what you think of the new experience.

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