A number of new features have been spotted within the existing code for Snapchat’s mobile app, including audio and video calling, as well as stickers within Snapchat’s chat interface, among other things. Assuming Snapchat actually rolls out the updated code to its broader user base, the additions could make the app more competitive with traditional messaging applications like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, or even Chinese messaging app WeChat, the latter of which Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has said he admires.
Specifically, the CEO said he appreciated the way Asian messaging apps make money – including via digital content, games, commerce and more. And with Snapchat’s Alibaba backing, it’s not surprising that the app may be going more in the direction of Asian messaging apps, and their in-app commerce potential. That’s something that integrating stickers into chat could help to enable.
After all, Snapchat’s earlier experiment with charging for in-app selfie lenses was shut down this month, indicating the company is still on the lookout for other sources of revenue. And stickers are a lucrative business for apps like WeChat and Line, which make millions by selling stickers on their platforms.
In addition to possibly paving an avenue toward monetization, rolling out stickers to Snapchat’s chat interface could make the app a better rival to the dominant mobile messaging applications today, as would the new audio and video calling features.
Snapchat currently supports video chat – but it’s difficult to use because both friends have to be present in the app at the same time in order to start video chatting. That makes the feature less practical than the calling features found within other messaging apps, including also Apple’s built-in communications app FaceTime and cross-platform messaging apps, like Skype.
According to the leaked screenshots, which show what’s dubbed Snapchat’s “ChatV2” interface, users will be able to tap on new buttons on a bar to kick off an audio or video call. The recipient will then get a pop-up that will allow them to ignore, join or listen into the call. There are also new presence indicators that show if a person is listening, talking or watching, which appear underneath your interactions within chat.
The code and screenshots were uncovered by the developers by Snapprefs, a third-party utility that lets you add more features to the Snapchat application through the Xposed framework. The team was able to make the feature set visible for some minutes, they said, which is how they were able to take the screenshots. The code was found within the Snapchat APK (its Android application), they said.
We should note that the presence of these new features hidden in the app doesn’t necessarily mean they will soon become public, or will appear in the same way when they do roll out to Snapchat’s wider user base. It’s also possible that the company is currently testing these features, and has not yet committed to a public launch (though this is less likely).
Snapchat was not immediately available for comment, but we’ll update if one is provided.
Snapchat declined to comment.
Image credits: Mészáros Marcell, Piotr Brzozowski, Jani Andsten of Snapprefs