Snapchat update offers in-app purchases (and terrifying new 'lenses')
The ephemeral messaging app has got a little less ephemeral and a whole lot more disturbing.
Snapchat has launched its first in-app purchases, offering users the chance to buy the ability to replay already-seen pictures and videos.
The new feature, which is only available in the US for the time being, offers “replays” in packs of three for $0.99. Without them, users can only view any given picture or video once, and get one additional replay for free each day.
The offer is the latest move away from the idea of “ephemeral messaging” which once lay at Snapchat’s core. Initially, the draw was that users could send a message just once, safe in the knowledge that once it was viewed, it could never be viewed again. Replays, introduced in 2013, chipped away at part of that, offering the ability to view one message a day a second time; so too did the introduction, in October that year, of Snapchat Stories, which lets Snapchatters post pictures and video on the app which is infinitely replayable for 24 hours after they’re published.
Snapchat said: “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?”
Alongside the introduction of extra replays for a fee, the new update also introduces “lenses”. Using facial recognition technology, Snapchat is able to alter the user’s face in real-time, with frankly terrifying results.
Seven lenses are included in this first batch, and while Snapchat doesn’t say as much, it seems likely that the firm will be experimenting with in-app purchases to offer more variety in the future.
The new features are the first major overhaul to Snapchat’s core messaging product in a while. Recently, the company has shown more of a focus on its media offering, Snapchat Discover, which lets publishers such as Buzzfeed and Vice upload news stories and shareable content directly to the app. The feature, which is ad-supported, has reportedly been a nice earner for Snapchat, with adverts selling for around 10 cents a view.
Snapchat gets up to half the sale price of each ad, and in March 2015 Recode reported that a given ad was seen by up to a million people each day, adding up to a potential income for Snapchat of $50,000 per advert.