Today, Snapchat is taking a big step in its quest to encourage users to spend more time in the app. The company is rolling out major updates to its augmented reality (AR) platform that will allow users to query third-party apps with their hands, translate locations and easily toggle between home pages.
This update is all about showing Snapchatters that the company doesn’t care so much about shipping even the newest features and putting them on a roadmap, they want to strike a better balance between not alienating users and being up front about its intentions.
As more companies in the space begin shifting their development calendars towards the AR platform and away from their core camera apps, Snapchat will need to show users that it’s not just creating tools for its competitor that wants to use its platform to better understand the lay of the land and represent it.
The platform works with third-party apps to enable all of these powers which are necessary for building AR experiences. The announcement today touts the possibilities for users to request directions from their messaging app, so how it will work exactly is unknown, but it sounds like Snapchat will deliver localized version of where you are that can be used to plan a route or complete a task. The experience will be powered by SnapML and R3Labs.
Mobile voice search is another capability that Snapchat is adding, with the company’s technologies essentially fueling the experience. There are many examples of how facial recognition and AR can empower a more natural way to control a specific situation, like a beam of light that can relay a list of options to the user.
“Whether it’s delivering directions, transcribing voice notes, completing a task, or hailing a taxi, Snapchat AR technology makes it easy to quickly find what you need,” Snapchat Vice President of Growth Sarah Sohn wrote in a blog post.
Snapchat has now taken the first of many steps in opening up its feature set to make its app more usable and less frustrating to use for casual users.