Like the other social media giants, Snapchat is simultaneously racing to keep up with constantly-changing consumer behaviors while also seeking to shape them with its own new services. This week the photo sharing and video messaging platform introduced a new version of its chat app, Chat 2.0, that aims to make transitions between different types of communication more seamless – and not coincidentally boost user engagement along the way.
Snapchat’s Chat 2.0 allows users to move between and combine multiple modes of communication including video, audio, stickers, and GIFs, with more intuitive and immediate transitions between them. The blog post announcing the new capabilities offered an example of the new, more connected interface: “You can start by sending a few chats, and when your friend shows up, start talking or video chatting instantly with one tap. Your friend can simply listen if you want to sing them a song, or watch if you have a new puppy to show them. If they aren’t there, you can quickly send an audio note to say what you mean. And sometimes, a sticker says it best…”
Among the new offerings, users can now ask to video (or audio) chat with someone, even if they’re not already in a chat session with that person, a feature making Snapchat into something akin to a video or regular phone. Once a video or audio call is initiated, users can send photos to each other, which appear as transparent images superimposed on the chat window.
As part of the new capabilities, Snapchat help users take advantage of the new format by automatically suggesting stickers relevant to text the user has entered in their private chat text when they push the “Stickers” button. They can also record 10-second “video notes” or “audio notes” to respond “in person” during a chat.
Snapchat also introduced a new feature, Auto-Advance Stories, that allow users to quickly get up to date with different friends by watching all their stories sequentially, without having to start each new story in turn. Users can swipe to skip ahead in the stories, and pull down to exit.
As noted, all the major social platforms are hurrying to introduce new messaging features as they jockey for position in the social media and mobile landscape, and also seek to monetize these popular services.
Earlier this month WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned mobile messaging service, launched a new document-sharing feature that allows users to upload and share PDF files through the messaging service. Facebook is also poised to begin inserting ads directly into Facebook Messenger.