Snapchat is a big deal, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most widely used social media networks. Using different filters and sending timed photos to friends has struck a chord with users, with over 150 million people using the app each day. It seems like program’s filters are getting more and more high tech as time goes on, graduating from simple face swaps to new Snapchat filters that have the capability to recognizing images of objects like pets, sports, and food, as well as specific locations, like beaches or concerts.
The silent release of these filters was first reported on by Mashable, and has since been confirmed by a company spokesperson.
Image recognition technology has been present for a while now in apps like Google Photos, Apple Photos, and Amazon Prime photos, but has been used to enhance the important parts of pictures rather than include fun add-ons like stickers or funny filters. Snapchat is taking things in a new direction with these filters, but the tech behind this image recognition has already been included in the app, at least in some form. There were previously geofilters that allowed users to post snaps with information like their current speed or the temperature outside.
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It seems as if Snapchat has quietly been using this technology already, with users currently able to search other people’s stories for keywords like “dogs” or “cats.”This expansion into image recognition as a targeted filter is a natural segue, but is still a pretty major step forward in Snapchat’s business strategy.
The Snapchat filters will be included in the filter carousel if the app recognizes something in the predetermined categories, and will be missing otherwise. This technology will afford the company the capability to move forward with an advertising opportunity they desperately need. Despite boasting a huge amount of users, the social network has struggled to monetize their service in a meaningful way. These contextual filters may give advertisers a reason to work with Snapchat to develop targeted filters based on a user’s environment.
In a world where more and more apps are becoming intelligent, advertising has never been more targeted or personal. While it may be convenient for some to have access to advertisements that are relevant to them rather than general ads, an app that anticipates your whims can come across as creepy rather than convenient. Services like Facebook have been the subject of controversy in the past, with many users reporting new ads on their feed after a live conversation offline. Still, there’s no doubt that this sort of technology is an excellent business decision, and it may give Snapchat an extra way to increase revenue.
These new filters come ahead of a significant app redesign intended to make the interface more accessible to older users. Right now, the app is largely used by a millennial audience, and the company hopes to expand its user base into other demographics — many of whom exclusively use Facebook.
With new image recognition Snapchat filters and a significant redesign, the future of the app could look a good amount different than what we see now. Any decisions the company makes moving forward could truly cement Snapchat as a household name rather than a passing millennial obsession.