Snapchat busted out an update to its app today just before the holidays. The new version of the ephemeral messaging app includes several color filters, a new ‘special text’ font and a few other additions.
The main update is the ‘visual filters’ that will add juiced up color effects to your images. If you’re stumped at how to activate them it is likely because you are not a teen. It took me 10 minutes to figure out that you have to swipe from right to left to trigger the filters. You’ve got 3 filters including two color and one black & white to choose from.
Bizarrely, the update also adds 3 ‘smart filters’ which overlay the time your image was taken, the temperature when it was taken and — get this — how fast you were going when you shot it, in MPH. I foresee a whole new sport being made of snaps being sent at the highest possible speeds.
There’s also now a larger Helvetica font to choose from. You can activate this — also obscurely — by tapping again on the text entry box when you’re typing out a message.
There’s a front-facing flash option now as well, which flashes white on the screen while you shoot, lightening up those selfies. You can now also choose up to 7 best friends if you choose. All of these options are enabled under the Settings>Additional Services>Manage section and none of them add a single additional indicating UI element to the interface.
There’s also a Replay option, which lets you re-view snaps once a day if you have it enabled. This seems to go against some of the major point of Snapchat, which is that messages are once-only briefs that are ‘gone forever’ once you’ve seen them. You can only replay the most recent image or video in your stream — but it’s opt-in by the recipient, not the sender. So if you get sent a snap you can now view it up to twice whether the sender wants you to or not.
Still, it’s a limited use option — you can only do it once per day. And this could help if your finger was covering an important bit in the image or if you missed a video clip because you thought it was a still image.
Snapchat has been experimenting with less and less ephemeral content with its ‘Stories’ feature, which lets people see your images as many times as they want for a 24 hour period. Our writer Josh Constine has more analysis on how Replay kills off some of Snapchat’s ephemerality.
Snapchat continues to have some of the worst feature discoverability and user experience in any consumer app that I use regularly — but maybe that’s sort of the point? And perhaps because these functions are experimental maybe the UI will get a bit of polish once they’re ‘real’ features. The app is still a lot of fun, but I wish the design held up a bit better under use. Anyhow, snappers should have some more options over their winter break.
For more on Snapchat’s big update, read Snapchat Sacrifices Ephemerality With New Replay Feature