Snapchat has rolled out a trio of new features that it hopes will enhance the user experience and keep the attention of its easily distracted user base, all while proving to investors that the company is truly worth its $15 billion valuation.
Probably the most attractive of these features is Lenses, an editing and animation tool that lets users place graphics and filters over their selfies. Snapchat has raised the bar for selfie animations with Lenses, offering an entire range that can go from fun (your wrinkled old future self) to weird (rainbow vomit) to scary (a vampire-ized version of you).Snapchat also says it will keep rotating the animations regularly to make sure users don't get tired and keep coming back to see what new animations are there to use.
To use Lenses, users simply have to press and hold on their face while in selfie mode, then select the animations they want to use at the bottom of the screen.
The technology behind Lenses appears to be part of an acquisition of Kickstarted selfie startup Looksery, which is believed to have been purchased by Snapchat for $150 million.
Snapchat also introduced Trophies, a system that gives rewards to users every time they reach a certain milestone. For instance, if a user takes 10 selfie snaps using their phone's front-facing flash, they get a new trophy.
Trophies appears to be part of Snapchat's efforts to increase user engagement and ramp up its advertising revenue. The more users are rewarded for their use of the app, the likelier they are to stay on the app, and this means Snapchat can charge higher fees from advertisers advertising to a highly engaged audience.
Last but certainly not the least is the inclusion of paid Replays. Snapchat built its empire on letting its users send ephemeral messages that vanish into thin air after being viewed. Previously, Snapchat only allowed users to use a replace once a day, and then they disappeared forever. However, the company seems to be backtracking on its stance on replays, as it is now letting users replace their messages up to three times. This, of course, comes with a fee.
"We've provided one Replay per Snapchatter per day, sometimes frustrating the millions of Snapchatters who receive many daily Snaps deserving of a Replay. But then we realized-a Replay is like a compliment! So why stop at just one?" says Snapchat in a blog post. "Today, U.S. Snapchatters can purchase extra Replays, starting at three for $0.99. You can use a Replay on any Snap you receive, but you can only Replay any Snap once. They're a little pricey---but time is money!"