Snapchat’s New Feature Is Freaking People Out

Snapchat has been fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant while social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even Whatsapp replicate features that once made it unique. Snapchat’s latest feature has certainly got people talking, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Snap Maps, allows your followers to find you by your location. According to Snapchat, the addition is meant to help users see what’s happening, find their friends, and get inspired to go on adventures.

The concept could be particularly useful to explore locations or tourist destinations, for example. Imagine being able to see unedited videos from people in London while you’re in South Africa. You could also experience events as they happen, like a Nicki Minaj concert or see real-time content from users at an event on the news.

Since the announcement on 21 June 2017, the internet has been peppered with articles about the new feature. Some media sources have hyped up the addition and commented on the possibilities, especially for marketers. Although there are certainly pros to the feature, articles have largely been negative and focused on concerns about compromised privacy.

While the idea is cool in theory, the reality is that your followers can see where you are at all times – even when not using Snapchat. This is pretty creepy for anyone, but parents are particularly concerned about the safety of their children, and rightly so.

In a recent video, YouTuber Joey Salads did a social experiment where he added a young girl he’d never met to Snapchat. See what happened for yourself:

Location settings on Snapchat
Upon activating Snap Maps, users can decide who can see their location.
Although you can select whether or not to share your location and with whom, the reality is that children and teenagers are not as social media savvy as they think they are. Anyone is at risk though – a stranger could quite easily learn your routine by tracking your movements and target you when you least expect it.

After being live for less than two weeks, Snapchat has removed the promotional video from YouTube, which suggests they’ve second guessed the update. This is, of course, just speculation but the addition could potentially lead to more trouble than it’s worth at what is an incredibly critical time for Snap Inc.

In my opinion, we can’t keep shifting the blame to someone else. At some stage, we need to step up and take responsibility. Parents need to continueously educate their children about the dangers of social media, and we need to be more discerning with who we allow to see our information as well as be more aware and protective of the information we share on the internet. Technology and social media are constantly evolving and the onus is on us to keep up.

Question: What are your thoughts? Should Snapchat remove this feature or is the onus on the user to be selective with who they share their information with?

Resources and Additional Reading

Facebook Copies Snapchat Again

Snapchat’s Latest Features May Be Its Saving Grace

It’s no surprise that Snapchat has seen a difficult few months, with competing platforms such as Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook mimicking (and in some cases improving) its main features. But Snapchat certainly isn’t going down without a fight. Introducing Snapchat World Lenses and Custom Stories.

1. World Lenses

Snapchat’s popularity skyrocketed after the addition of its face filters. More recently however, the app introduced World Lenses, which is certain to pique user’s interests again. These live filters/lenses allow users to add augmented reality elements to their surroundings. This groundbreaking innovation is tonnes of fun as it not only allows users to overlay 3D elements in their world, but you can actually walk around the object to see it from different angles!

This feature is already available to experience yourself. Simply use the rear-facing camera, tap the screen once and select the World Lense you’d like to use. It’s that simple!

The best (and most fun) way to learn is to try it out for yourself, but if you’d like a bit more info, check out the video below:

2. Custom Stories

Today Snapchat announced its latest feature called ‘Custom Stories’. This feature allows multiple users to add images and videos to one story. Custom Stories are intended for collaborators to document specific occasions or periods, and to share their experiences with their viewers. After losing some individuals to the likes of Instagram Stories, this is a clever tactic as it encourages users to involve others, which will likely increase the number of active Snapchat users.

There are two ways of using Custom Stories. Users can add others to a Custom Story to either contribute or watch the stories. Alternatively, a user can create a geofence that allows friends of friends located in the same area to contribute to the same snap pool. As Darrell Etherington from TechCentral points out, this is “super useful in settings like weddings where the people you’re hanging out with might not be part of your actual Snapchat friends group.”

While mainly for shorter periods of time, Custom Stories can last as long as you want them to, disappearing only if no one has contributed to them in the past 24 hours.

Final Thoughts

While Snap Inc is still recovering after going public and the platform is desperately trying to fight off competition, these two additions are pretty good attempts at staying relevant. One could argue that the World Lenses are a bit gimmicky, but the addition of Custom Stories might just do the trick to put Snapchat back on the map. That is, if Facebook doesn’t adopt the idea in the next couple of weeks…

References and Additional Reading

Facebook Copies Snapchat Again

Facebook has just launched their latest feature, which allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. This is the fourth time the giant has mimicked Snapchat after introducing the feature on other Facebook-owned entities – Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Stories:

  • The feature is only available on iOS and Android mobile devices and is essentially a second Newsfeed.Facebook Stories Screen
  • It is accessible as soon as you login to the app and can be found at the top of your screen, much like on Instagram.
  • Navigation is easy and works just as Instagram Stories, allowing users to skip stories or move forward and backwards in a story.
  • To add your own story, you can click on the plus icon or simply swipe across to access the camera.
  • The camera comes with a number of filters, including filters that use facial recognition – arguably Snapchat’s key differentiator.
  • The pen feature is also a nice touch, allowing users to choose the colour, width and texture of the pen.
  • Photos and videos can be shared publically or directly to one, or a few, of your friends.
  • Direct messages allow the recipient to view the file one more time within 24 hours after opening the photo or video.
  • Comments on Stories are kept separate from Messenger
  • At this moment, you are able to see who has viewed your story but not if they have taken a screenshot.
  • Your content can be downloaded and stored on your phone as with the other platforms.

The topic of Snapchat being on borrowed time has been a popular opinion for some time now. Is this the last nail in the coffin?

It is already available to all users, but for more information on Facebook Stories, you can visit their website here.

Additional Reading and References

Introducing Snap Inc Spectacles

Ever wanted to share your memories from your perspective? Now you can with Snapchat Spectacles.

On the 24th of September, Snapchat (or Snap Inc as it’s now known) announced that they will soon be launching Spectacles – a new way to capture your experiences from your perspective. Spectacles allows users to record 10-second videos from the lenses in these funky sunglasses, which they can then upload straight to the popular mobile app. These videos can then be shared and downloaded just like any other Snap Inc photo or video.

The above video promoting the new sunglasses was published on 23 September and has already received close to 2 million views in just over a week. However, there is another video that was also shared, which has not gone quite as viral. While the more popular video targets teenagers and millennials, and how fun can be relived, the second video highlights capturing family moments. Imagine being able to watch a video of you playing with your kids, not from a camera’s perspective, but from your own, as if through your eyes again? That’s incredible.

When and How Much?

Although it is unclear when exactly we should expect Spectacles to be available, it is said that the wearable-technology will hit shelves before Christmas. Times claims that the selling price will be $129.99 (around R1,800.00). This is much less than what Google Glass was priced at, which is part of the reason why tech journalists predict Spectacles will succeed. Also in contrast to Google Glass, the design of Spectacles is unapologetically bolder. At the moment, the unisex sunglasses are available in three colours. Other than that, details are still murky, but so far the product has been well received.

Snap Inc Spectacles

I really love how Snap Inc is looking to close the gap between social media and real-life moments by integrating the users’ experiences with easy to use technology. It will be interesting to see if Spectacles will remain exclusive to Snap Inc or whether other video recording apps will be able to use the device. Although we cannot predict whether or not the wearable technology will be a success, Snap Inc deserves to be commended for pushing the boundaries of social technology. I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair and try them out. How about you?

For more information, visit the Spectacles website to learn more about the device and it’s specs (see what I did there?) . 26-year-old Snap Inc’s CEO Evan Spiegel also went in-depth with his vision for the device in a Wall Street Journal interview recently that is also well worth a read.