Snapchat is testing enhanced video calling, audio calling, and stickers within its chat feature, according to leaked screenshots.
The chat feature, accessed by swiping on a contact’s name, is currently only available with text or pictures from the camera roll. There is already a rudimentary video calling feature, but it is difficult to use because both users have to keep pressing the screen continuously at the same time.
So the updates would appear to signal a shift in how Snapchat is thinking about its service.
The software is dubbed “ChatV2,” according to 9to5Google, and the screenshots appear to come from an Android device, which may be used for testing.
According to the screenshots, the new interface is similar to that of Facebook Messenger, with clearly defined buttons for each feature, such as photos, audio calling, video calling, and sticker-esque emoji. The current set of options are limited to text and photos.
Snapchat has grown to over 200 million users — of which 100 million use the app every day — in just a few short years. Those users send more than 800 million photos and videos in one day, as of late 2015. The app is used heavily by people aged between 18 and 24.
Facebook’s Messenger, which was broken out into its own app last year, has over 600 million users and Snapchat could be eyeing them by adding new features which could increase engagement with the app. Stickers, for example, make chatting on Snapchat (outside of photos) more fun.
Adding more features, such as video calling, also increases engagement within the app. Stories, which are broadcast to all followers or friends, did this in part by adding more content to check back on, but 10-second photos or videos are not as sticky as the News Feed or group chats, complete with GIFs and stickers.
Snapchat is also looking for a business model. The company shut down its paid-for live filters option — which charged £0.79 ($0.99) for a filter — last month, and stickers could be the new source of revenue for the company.
Geo-filters — an overlay on a photo based on a location or event — are similar to stickers and can be sponsored by a brand already, making it easier for the company’s sales team to sell the new feature to advertisers.
Snapchat’s ad business is growing, but the lack of targeting is a problem for brands. Facebook, which has one of the biggest online ad businesses, is successful because advertisers know so much about users. Snapchat, however, has very little detail on its users beyond gender (which is guessed), age (which is guessed), and location.
Line, a chat-based social network that is popular in Asia, generated almost $100 million (£70 million) in revenue from selling branded stickers in 2014, according to TechCrunch. In comparison, Snapchat made $3.1 million (£2.1 million).
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