A Snapchat update rolling out today is going to introduce two wild new features to users of the app: paid replays, and a selfie-altering mode called “Lenses.”
It’s true that every photo or video message that is sent to you directly from other users disappears forever after you view it, but a few years ago Snapchat started allowing users to replay one already-viewed message per day. Now the app will allow users to purchase extra replays at a cost of $0.99 for every three. You’ll be able to use that replay on any message that gets sent to you, but it’s still one-time only. You won’t be able to pay to watch the same photo or video again and again. (This doesn’t apply to Stories, which last 24 hours, are already replayable, and are arguably Snapchat’s most widely-used feature.)
The new replay feature gives Snapchat a third stream of revenue, adding to the money it makes on its Discover partnerships and the ads it places in its sponsored Snapchat Stories. Using in-app purchases to generate revenue has proven to be a powerful model when it comes to mobile apps, and this move could be just the first step for Snapchat.
The new Lenses feature is an advancement of an idea we’ve seen the company try before. Earlier this year, Snapchat created a location filter that acted as an ad for the movie Terminator: Genisys. It allowed users to appear as a killer cyborg by placing the T-800’s iconic red eye (and other scars) over their faces. Lenses takes this idea to a new place — when you’re lining up your selfie, you’ll be able to press and hold on your face to activate a panel where you can pick different Lenses. Each one will have unique instructions — it appears that some are interactive, like tracking your face and changing when you say specific key words — and new ones will appear each day.
Snapchat promises other “surprises” in a blog post about the update, including an achievement mode called “Trophies.” That can mean any number of things, as we’ve found out in the past.
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