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Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app used globally, created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, former students at Stanford University, and developed by Snap Inc., originally Snapchat Inc.
One of the principal concepts of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are only available for a short time before they become inaccessible. The app has evolved from originally focusing on person-to-person photo sharing to presently featuring "Stories" of 24-hour chronological content, along with "Discover" to let brands show ad-supported short-form entertainment. Snapchat has become notable for representing a new, mobile-first direction for social media, and places significant emphasis on users interacting with virtual stickers and augmented reality objects. As of February 2018, Snapchat has 187 million daily active users.
Snapchat is primarily used for creating multimedia messages referred to as "snaps"; snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions, and drawings. The ability to send video snaps was added as a feature option in December 2012. By holding down on the photo button while inside the app, a video of up to ten seconds in length can be captured. After a single viewing, the video disappears by default. Spiegel explained that this process allowed the video data to be compressed into the size of a photo. On May 1, 2014, the ability to communicate via video chat was added. Direct messaging features were also included in the update, allowing users to send ephemeral text messages to friends and family while saving any needed information by clicking on it.
A feature known as "Geofilters" was added in July 2014, which allows special graphical overlays to be available if the user is within a certain geographical location, such as a city, event, or destination. Snapchat users can design and submit their own "Geofilters" to be used on the app. The "Lens" feature, introduced in September 2015, allows users to add real-time effects into their snaps by using face detection technology. This is activated by long-pressing on a face within the viewfinder. In April 2017, Snapchat extended this feature into "World Lenses", which use augmented reality technology to integrate 3D rendered elements (such as objects and animated characters) into scenes; these elements are placed and anchored in 3D space.
Snaps can be directed privately to selected contacts or to a semi-public "Story". The private message photo snaps can be viewed for a user-specified length of time (1 to 10 seconds as determined by the sender) before they become inaccessible. Users were previously required to hold down on the screen in order to view a snap; this behavior was removed in July 2015 The requirement to hold on the screen was intended to frustrate the ability to take screenshots of snaps; the Snapchat app does not prevent screenshots from being taken but can notify the sender if it detects that it has been saved. However, these notifications can be bypassed through either unauthorized modifications to the app or by obtaining the image through external means. One snap per day can be replayed for free. In September 2015, Snapchat introduced the option to purchase additional replays through in-app purchases. The ability to purchase extra replays was removed in April 2016.
Friends can be added via usernames and phone contacts, using customizable "Snapcodes", or through the "Add Nearby" function, which scans for users near their location who are also in the Add Nearby menu. Spiegel explained that Snapchat is intended to counteract the trend of users being compelled to manage an idealized online identity of themselves, which he says has "taken all of the fun out of communicating".
In November 2014, Snapchat introduced "Snapcash", a feature that lets users send and receive money to each other through private messaging. The payments system is powered by Square.
In July 2016, Snapchat introduced a new, optional feature known as "Memories". Memories allows snaps and story posts to be saved into a private storage area, where they can be viewed alongside other photos stored on the device, as well as edited and published as snaps, story posts, or messages. When shared to a user's current story, the memory would have a white frame and timestamp to indicate its age. Content in the Memories storage area can be searched by date or using a local object recognition system. Snaps accessible within Memories can additionally be placed into a "My Eyes Only" area that is locked with a PIN. Snapchat has stated that the Memories feature was inspired by the practice of manually scrolling through photos on a phone to show them to others. In April 2017, the white border around old memories was removed. While originally intended to let viewers know the material was old, TechCrunch wrote that the indicator "ended up annoying users who didn’t want their snaps altered, sometimes to the point where they would decide not to share the old content at all".
July 2016 also marked Snapchat's acquisition of Bitstrips and its app Bitmoji, which allows users to design stickers featuring personalized cartoon avatars. At this time, Snapchat launched integration between Bitmoji and Snapchat, allowing users to link their accounts and use Bitmoji stickers within snaps and messages. Bitmoji characters can also be used as World Lenses.
In August 2016, Snapchat launched Geostickers, a feature that lets users send city-specific stickers in snaps and messages. Original launch cities were San Francisco (which launched with 15 stickers), Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Honolulu, London, Sydney, S?o Paulo, Paris and Riyadh.
In May 2017, an update made it possible to send snaps with unlimited viewing time, dropping the previous ten-second maximum duration, with the content disappearing after being deliberately closed by the recipient. New creative tools, namely the ability to draw with an emoji, videos that play in a loop, and an eraser that lets users remove objects in a photo with the app filling in the space with the background, were also released.
In June 2017, Snapchat started allowing users to add links to snaps, enabling them to direct viewers to specific websites; the feature was only available for brands previously. Additionally, the update added more creative tools: A "Backdrop" feature lets users cut out a specific object from their photo and apply colorful patterns to it in order to bring greater emphasis to that object, and "Voice Filters" enable users to remix the sounds of their voices in the snap. Voice Filters was previously available as part of the feature enabling augmented reality lenses, with the new update adding a dedicated speaker icon to remix the audio in any snap
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