Snapchat lets you add links, voice filters and backdrops to Snaps

Snapchat is breaking its long-standing “no links” rule today while also providing some novel new creative tools to keep it one step ahead of Instagram. The new features are rolling out globally on iOS and Android thanks to an update today, Snap Inc. tells TechCrunch.

Here’s a demo of how these creative tools work, and descriptions of how to use them.

  • Paperclip lets you attach a website to a Snap that friends can swipe up to open in Snapchat’s internal browser. Previously only ad campaigns and Discover content could include links. Just tap the Paperclip button in the Vertical Toolkit and enter your link. This could let you share an event link or funny meme on Snap, but also makes it so some Snaps are incomplete at first glance and require extra time to understand. Snapchat tells TechCrunch that all shared links must abide by its terms of service, community guidelines and privacy policy. Snap will use its own automated trust and safety tools, as well as information from Google’s Safe Browsing service, to warn users about potential phishing scams, malware or other dangerous sites. To help users avoid opening objectionable links, a preview will be shown next to the swipe-up arrow, and Snap encourages users to report inappropriate content.

  • Backdrops lets you cut out an object from your Snap and put a colorful or artsy pattern behind it to make it stick out. First tap the Scissors in the Vertical Toolkit and then the Backdrop icon. Trace around the object, select one of the Backdrop designs that rotate daily, and you’ll be able give a certain part of your snap the spotlight. The ability to insert a layer of imagery between objects and the real background gives people a creative way to augment the world behind them, not just their faces.
  • Voice Filters let you remix the sound of voices in your Snaps. Previously, voice filters were only part of visual augmented reality lenses, like one that made you look and sound like a bumble bee. Now you can tap the speaker icon at the bottom of the screen and select from a range of character voices to give your Snaps some extra humor or style. Some of these voice filters might get annoying, but they’ll open up new opportunities for story telling.

Now the question is how long until Instagram copies these too. Instagram already lets verified profiles attach links to Stories, but not everyone. Snap will have to hope that links don’t disrupt the seamless viewing experience by tempting people to swipe out of Stories and into the internal web browser. The last thing we need is another place to share news articles.