Friday, January 13, 2017

Snapchat's Planned Updates Expect to Expand User Base

In late 2011, a group of Stanford students came together to develop a new kind of social media platform, which they called Snapchat. Snapchat was unique in that it aimed to allow virtual communication with the same level of emotional range that one might expect from an in-person conversation. To accomplish that goal, Snapchat was designed to be impermanent in that all messages, pictures, and videos sent through the app would be deleted after the recipient had viewed them. The new concept took the social media world by storm and brought in many users, especially among the teenage to early twenties demographic.

Eventually, however, the buzz died down and many users became bored of the concept, turning to standard social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for their day-to-day use. Snapchat kept updating their software, adding features to make it more interesting to use, but some people didn't see a purpose in sharing 10-second blurbs of their life. It wasn't until late 2015 that the company made a big change that brought in so many more users: filters. Their filters gave users the ability to change their appearance, voice, or background, thereby making photos and videos more of a fun experience to share with friends. Since then, Snapchat has been continuously adding to their supply of filters, getting more and more detailed by the day. Most recently, as Paresh Dave described in his L.A. Times article, Snapchat is making another big change, a search bar that will make the platform that much more similar to competitors like Facebook.

Besides the fact that the new update seems to stray from the company's original plan to be different from other social media platforms, the search bar seems to be a great addition. Not only will users be able to look up friends by name, they will also be able to efficiently find celebrities and companies that they want to follow. Additionally, all users will have the ability to send their Snaps to the company for the chance to be featured publicly, a feature that was once limited to specific locations and events. Perhaps the coolest part of the new update involves the use of artificial intelligence to identify objects or people in public videos. In that way, a user could choose to view any Snap containing a specific product or featuring the image of a politician or some other famous person.

Because Snapchat is now allowing public submissions from anyone around the world, they are making their users happy and are granting themselves access to far more content. If users are willing to send in their own funny or thought-provoking images and videos, then Snapchat doesn't have to invest money into coming up with their own. Their AI will sort the Snaps based on event or location, which could be helpful for real-time coverage by real people in the event of a natural disaster or local emergency. All of these changes to the app seem to be timely and will hopefully be quite effective in both helping the company grow and allowing users to connect easily.

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