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Snapchat update introduces new emoji system and camera enhancements

When you open up the updated Snapchat, you’ll be greeted by some unexpected emojis. Instead of publicly displaying your most frequent snap partners with the “Best Friends” list, Snapchat is now lining up emojis with users to show who you’re closest with.

As TechCrunch reported, the Best Friends list had previously been removed in an update in January, and now the new emoji system is in place, complete with a key for what each icon means.

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  • Gold Heart: This person is the user you send the most snaps to, and they also send the most snaps to you.
  • Grimace/Grit Teeth: This person sends the most snaps to the same person that you send the most snaps to.
  • Smile: This is one of the people you send the most snaps to.
  • Sunglasses: One of the people that you send snaps to regularly also receives snaps from this person.
  • Smirk: You are one of the people they send snaps to most, but they are not one of the people you send snaps to most.
  • Fire: You and this person have exchanged snaps consecutively for the number of days next to the emoji.

The emojis aim to combat the effect the “Best Friends” list had, which created extra drama and competition among friends, thanks to the public state of the information. Now that the barometer for your friendship has gone private, you can keep better track of your relationships without worrying about others seeing it.

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Along with the emojis, Snapchat has also added another feature designed to clue you in to how you interact with people. When users go to send snaps from their “Recents” menu, they’ll be greeted with a label on some of their friends that reads “Needs love.” This will appear on users whom haven’t received snaps from you recently.

These new features follow a trend: They “gamify” Snapchat, turning interaction among friends into a sport. It’s a subtle psychological prodding to encourage users to keep sending snaps, even if it’s for artificial reasons. If you don’t want to get scolded with the “Needs love” tag, you have to stay in touch with everyone. If you want to maintain the fire emoji and keep your streak alive, you have to keep snapping. After all, you don’t want to be the one who causes the icon to disappear.

As far as more functional updates, Snapchat has also polished up its low-light camera to make it more serviceable. Previously, photos taken in the absence of decent lighting would turn out … well, dark. Now, a moon icon will appear to show that Snapchat has identified an opportunity to use its low-light features. Pressing it will give the photo a brighter effect so the subjects can actually be seen. It’s an ideal feature for anyone who has tried to snap from a concert, party, or any event in a dark placeS and wound up with little more than a black screen to show for it.