Snapchat unveils new Story modes, updates to Snap Map, enhanced Bitmoji and more
At its Snap Partner Summit today in Santa Monica, Snapchat unveiled a series of new features coming to its app. The company is rolling out new Stories features, adding updates to the Snap Map, enhancing Bitmoji, introducing new ways to virtually interact with friends and more.
Snapchat is launching two new shared Story modes, starting with “Communities,” which is a shared Story for interacting with people in the same school. With this new Story mode, users from the same school can see what other people on campus are up to, build new friendships and share their point of view. Snapchat has tested the new Story mode in certain schools, and plans to roll out Communities to additional colleges and high schools this month.
The second new shared Story mode is called “After Dark.” You can add to an After Dark Story after 8 pm. Snapchat sees the new feature as a way to relive last night’s highlights, whether you were up late studying for finals or went to a concert. Only the friends who posted to the After Dark story have access to view the Snaps when they’re shared the following morning. Snapchat plans to add a similar shared Story for early birds in the future.
Snapchat also announced an update to Memories, its flashback feature that lets users reminisce on what they were doing on a given day exactly a year ago. The company is now launching “Friendship Flashbacks” that will surface throwbacks generated from the Snaps saved between you and a friend. The flashbacks will resurface directly in your conversations.
As for the Snap Map, the company is introducing a new location-sharing mode called “Live Location” that updates in the background. Prior to this update, you could only share your location with a friend for a set period of time, but now you can do so indefinitely. The new feature is similar to Apple’s Find My, as it constantly shares your live location with a friend.
Snapchat is also enhancing the Snap Map and adding 3D visual elements. When you move around the new map, you’ll see local landmarks in a more detailed way. The company says the purpose of the new map is to allow users to explore their surroundings in a new way. The new updated Map will roll out to all users in the coming months.
In addition, the updated Snap Map will start suggesting places that Snap thinks users would want to check out. Snapchat is adding a new “Popular Last Night” tag to the Snap Map to let users see where their friends were recently hanging out. Jack Brody, Snap’s VP of Product, said during the event that the company found that when its most active users see places marked as “Top Picks” on the Snap Map, they’re 18% more likely to visit that place in person.
As for AR, the company recently rolled out a Lens that lets users virtually appear together when on a video call say in a car or swimming together in the sea. To build on this, Snapchat plans to soon launch a more interactive Lens that lets users complete puzzles and play games together while they’re face-to-face on a video call.
Snapchat is also introducing a new Activity Center that makes it easier for users to stay up to speed on what their friends are up to. You can swipe down from the camera to access the Activity Center and see where your friends are on the Snap Map, get notified if your friend updated their Bitmoji outfit and see if it’s someone’s birthday.
In terms of Bitmoji, Snapchat announced that it plans to launch an updated avatar style that features a more expressive look with realistic dimensions, shading and lighting. The company didn’t reveal any further details about the updated design but said that the change would be coming “soon.”
As for Bitmoji clothing, the company announced that it’s bringing digital fashion from Marvel to its Bitmoji community. Users will be able to accessorize their Bitmoji with apparel inspired by characters in the Marvel Universe.
Snapchat says that nearly 1.7 billion Bitmojis have been created globally, which is a significant increase from the 1 billion figure that it shared at last year’s Snap Partner Summit event.