DUBAI: Snap Inc. made a slew of new announcements at its third annual Snap Partner Summit (SPS), held virtually last month. The event kicked off with an introduction by Evan Spiegel, CEO of the camera company.
The company announced it would be adding more utilities and functions to the camera for both users and partners. For instance, it is now adding Scan to the home screen, which will allow users to scan an object in the real world and unlock related lenses or utility features. Users can scan a clothing item to shop similar items or scan a plant or dog to identify its type/breed right from the home screen.
“This has been a journey in the making for the past few years,” Abdulla Al-Hammadi, regional business lead at Snap Inc., told Arab News.
Snapchat’s use of the camera started with basic lenses that progressed to layering lenses with real-world landmarks. Now, it is moving beyond that: “It went from being a tool for innovation and creativity to being one that can deliver utility for you as a user, as well as for consumers and businesses,” added Al-Hammadi.
In its efforts to enhance the utility of the camera, the platform is upgrading its augmented reality (AR) enabled try-on services so users can use voice and gestures (such as flicking their wrist) to control the app when trying on watches, sunglasses, clothes and more.
Snapchat has worked with brands such as Dior and Cartier globally to create AR shopping experiences, but the rollout of the feature has been slow. “We slowly started peppering in some of these experiences last year to see how users would interact with them. We wanted the experience to be top-notch,” Al-Hammadi said.
So far, Snapchat has worked in a limited capacity with brands in the region, but moving forward, it expects more regional brands to jump on board.
“We are already in conversations with a lot of retailers and brands about bringing this home and trying to experiment with it in the region,” Al-Hammadi said.
Another feature for brands announced at the SPS was the launch of Brand Profiles. The feature was introduced last year in a closed beta test with 30 brands and is now being rolled out at scale. It allows brands to have a permanent presence, or home page of sorts, on the app. “Historically, one of the biggest struggles brands have had with Snap is that they did not have an organic base to tell their story,” said Al-Hammadi. With a brand profile, a brand now has the opportunity to house all its content, including any AR experiences, in one place.
Snap also announced Map Layers — something Al-Hammadi is personally excited about.
“The Map has been one of the elements that have been a little hidden; we haven’t really communicated what you should do with it,” he said.
The highest engagement on the Map, however, came from the Middle East and North Africa region, particularly Saudi Arabia.
“Despite the product not initially offering a lot of value, our regional users actually figured out different ways to use it,” Al-Hammadi added.
Map Layers allow third parties to tap into Maps so a brand or partner can add experiences to a user’s map. For now, Snap has two partners: Ticketmaster and The Infatuation. The former allows users to scan through events in the area and buy tickets, while the latter allows users to look through restaurant reviews around them. Snap has not announced any regional partners at this time.
Prior to the SPS, Al-Hammadi said that Snap’s business partners in the region were already requesting that the platform “do something with the map,” and after the latest announcement, brands are already excited to get started.
Some of the other announcements at this year’s SPS were:
- Connected Lenses, where friends can interact with each other through Lenses
- API-powered Lenses, which will allow brands to build AR Shopping Lenses by uploading their product catalogs and 3D product assets into Snap’s Business Manager
- Story Studio, a standalone app for creators providing tools and insights
- Gifting, which enables subscribers to send gifts to official Snap Stars
- Creator Marketplace, a new portal for brands to find and contact verified creators
The company also announced plans to make Snapchat more inclusive by improving the camera to better capture darker skin tones.