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From voice control to Story replies, here’s everything in Snapchat’s big update

Here’s What Happened | Snap Partner Summit 2020

Snapchat will soon respond to your voice and help you find new places to hang out, all inside an app with a new way to navigate. During the annual Snap Partner Summit on June 11, Snap Inc. announced a long list of new features heading to the app, including several that build on the social network’s fundamentals, from replying to Stories to adding a hashtag-like feature called Topics.

Snapchat’s new action bar Image used with permission by copyright holder

First, a new action bar that adds shortcuts at the top of the app makes getting around a little simpler, Snapchat says. The new navigation bar changes based on what screen you are in. While Snapchat’s gesture controls are one of the biggest hurdles for new users trying to find all the different features, Snapchat users have complained loudly over major design changes in the past.

But users will also soon simply be able to ask Snapchat for what they are seeking. Voice Scan is a voice search for different lenses, where users can just say, “Snapchat, make my hair pink,” for example. The voice control is activated by touching and holding on the camera screen. 

Snapchat Lens Scan Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another camera tool, Scan, will allow users to tap and hold to use a different type of Lens that helps recognize what’s in the photo. The feature is starting with PlantSnap, which can identify 400 different plants and is activated by pressing and holding on the screen. Other camera-focused updates include the addition of Local Lenses designed for a specific neighborhood and enhancements to Lens Studio, the desktop app for building a Lens.

Snapchat Places Image used with permission by copyright holder

Snapchat Places aims to help users find popular hangouts in the community or when traveling. While Snap Map typically shows where friends are, Places adds businesses to that map, including details like hours, the address, and reviews from Tripadvisor and FourSquare. Snap Inc. says that food ordering from Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats will also be added to Places soon.

Stories, a major part of Snapchat that many apps have now copied, adds two new features. Story Replies allow users to add comments to Stories from Snap Stars, which can then be turned into stickers. The platform says replies will be filtered for bullying and hate speech.

Snapchat Topics Image used with permission by copyright holder

Topics functions like a hashtag designed for Stories. Using a Topic sticker in a Story submits the content for potential inclusion in a topic-wide Story. Snapchat users can browse through topics to find interests, with topics like Life Hacks and Oddly Satisfying.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

In a move to expand news on the platform, Snap Inc. also announced Happening Now, a spot for watching breaking news in Story format. It has partnered with trusted news organizations for the feature, with journalism coming from The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, NBC News, ESPN, NowThis, E! News, BuzzFeed News, and others. The section will also include “publicly submitted Snaps from the community,” Snapchat said. Snapchat didn’t go into detail on the process to get those Snaps included in a way that prevents fake news. The feature also includes local weather and personalized horoscopes.

The list of announcements also includes several new ways other apps are building Snapchat integrations and vice versa. Snap Minis are HTML5 snippets that power functions directly inside a chat room. With the Move Tickets by Atom Mini, for example, friends can choose a showtime, seats, and pay for tickets inside of a chat, along with watching trailers together. The original list of Minis powers features from studying with a friend to planning a festival.

The Atom Tickets Snap Mini Image used with permission by copyright holder

Third-party apps will also be able to integrate Snapchat’s camera and lenses with updates to the Camera Kit. Apps from Nike, MLB Ballpark, Squad, and Triller are among the first expected to bring a Snapchat camera into their own apps.

For gaming, Bitmojis can soon be used in 3D inside third-party games on mobile devices, PCs, and even gaming consoles. The first games and companies integrating the feature include Scrabble Go, SingHeads, and Uno. Snap Games is also adding 10n new titles.

Snapchat also announced new Snap Originals and expanded features in the Here For You feature designed to support mental health.

Some of the tools, such as Places and Story Replies, are already rolling out to iOS and Android today, while other announcements are glimpses of what’s heading out to the app next.

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