Snapchat's seen some better days. Instagram introducing a similar Stories feature to its photo-sharing service in late 2016 gave Evan Spiegel's company more niched, yet expected, competition. While I frequent both of these applications on a daily basis more than I care to admit, I'm rooting for Snapchat in this market share battle. Its energetic, unconventional user interface amplifies its ingrained affable nature and intimacy. Bitmoji support, despite taking a while to grow on me, is charming and allows for me to express myself in a seemingly-infinite number of ways. The Snap Map creeps me out as much as it keeps me in the loop. Face and World Lenses give me the power to alter myself and location in captivating ways. The list goes on. And while I don't see the appeal of everything Snapchat and its parent company, Snap, does (I'm looking at you, Spectacles), I can praise them for taking such a simple idea - disappearing photos - and building it into the social media and entertainment giant that it is today.
I want to share six features and quality-of-life improvements that I foresee Snapchat will introduce, in some way or another, over the next year. Note that I'm writing this from the consumer perspective: things that would get me, a user, coming back for more. Some of these ideas are more ambitious, and obvious, than others. I also don't perceive any points on my list as Snapchat's "saving grace". This post will only cover topics that haven't been publically announced yet, so I'm not diving into original programming and the likes.
Here they are!
1. Spotify Connectivity
Music is a reoccurring theme in Snapchat. They partnered with Shazam which allows me to instantly get the name of a song that's playing near me while I'm in the app. If my headphones are in, my Actionmoji can be seen with his in as well. Some filters have promotional tracks playing in them. All of this inclusive, I feel that Snappers will one day be able to authorize access to their Spotify accounts. Once permission has been granted, the track a user is currently listening to will show up above their Actionmoji's head on the Snap Map. This small feature can aid in music discovery and conversational launching points that are necessary for increased app retention rates.
2. Games + Video Calling Expansion
Snapchat's had some basic, face-controlled games appear in their Lenses over the years. It's not out of the question that these grow in complexity and quality in the future. What about the introduction of games where you can compete against a friend? What about in real-time? The Chat's video calling feature is grossly underused — at least among my peers who prefer FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Games could be a fun way to give a breath of fresh air to video calling. I'd be thoroughly entertained having a conversation with a friend while I'm trying to dodge virtual projectiles they throw at my face for points. Toss in some leaderboards and keep people coming back for competition.
3. Story Reactions/Acknowledgement
Similar to how you can heart Instagram posts, I foresee the ability to acknowledge friend's Stories in a passive manner. Right now, the only way to show gratitude towards someone's Story is to send them a Chat. But, sometimes I feel that's a little too direct (even by means of the recently-added Bitmoji quick responses), especially if their post just made me smirk. If I could just press a heart or thumbs up button, my interaction with Stories would increase drastically. The number of reactions don't even need to be made public and could be visible to only the Story poster, because gratification from overall Story acknowledgment would likely be higher than it currently is.
4. Better Searching
Yep, this one's low-hanging fruit, but come on, Snapchat! While users have a bunch of ways to add new friends, the search functionality sucks. All I'm asking for here is something tried and true, like Facebook's search. Type in something (whether it be a username or real name) and see the closest-matching results, not verbatim results. If privacy is a concern, then give users the ability to hide from this public search. While I understand the argument that Snapchat is a more close-knit social network, this would be useful for discovering and following brands too.
5. Snap Map Advertising
Look, I hate intrusive advertising. In fact, I switched out of my Marketing major because I realized I can't bring myself to do some of the very things that I despise. But, I know that Snapchat desperately needs to make money and its platform still has room for more ways to be monetized. We're bound to see advertisements popping up on the Snap Map, where brand logos appear at their respective locations. At the expense of a cluttered Map, users might get Snapchat-exclusive promotions, discounts, and perks. In return, brands on the Map would get access to targeted, local audiences and a (extended) plethora of Snapchat-related analytics. Reaching the full potential of the Map is still far on the horizon, and Snapchat has been making great strides with recent additions like Context Cards. Flesh these out more with more consumer-oriented emphasis and it could be a win-win for brands and buyers alike.
With the time for augmented reality being now (by means of the recent release of Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore), Snapchat will almost certainly explore the third dimension more so. I'm having a lot of fun playing with my 3D Bitmoji via World Lenses, but why stop there? Why not incorporate friends into the mix? I'm thinking bigger than merely interacting with someone else's Bitmoji. I'm talking worldbuilding, multi-user spatial collaboration. How creative would it be to "pin" objects to certain geographical coordinates in the world that other Snapchatters could see? Imagine I place a virtual slice of pizza on my front lawn. Anyone on Snapchat at the same location would also see the pizza. This would encourage exploration of the world around us and show how imaginative people get with the tools they're given. I'd open up Snapchat even more just to see if there's anything cool that people left around. While the technology may not be quite there yet, AR innovators are working towards ironing out the kinks. If any platforms adopt this technology in the near future, it should be Snapchat.
In closing, my ideas emphasize existing Snapchat features and build off the foundation that's already been laid over the past half-decade. I don't believe that Snapchat needs something as distinct and grandiose as the Map within the next 365 days. Snapchat already has so much to work with feature-wise; it's a matter of more fully-realizing them that will get the company better market standings through higher user engagement.
What do you think the future of Snapchat has in store? Do you predict some changes similar to mine? Leave a comment below!