Snapchat is not in a pretty situation. Facebook pulled the rug on which the once-chill platform is proverbially doing yoga poses, unabashedly making not one but four carbon copies of Snapchat’s Stories feature. Snapchat released on Friday a feature called “stories search”, a gesture to show its chameleon-like competitors that it’s in for the battle.
The new feature is basically Snapchat slapping a fat search engine atop its fancy UI. This allows users to search for specific keywords like “platypus”, and up the search results pop, making you ten times more fascinated with what incredible creatures platypuses are.
Here’s a demo of how the feature works.
This move, of course, is problematic, and frankly a bit impulsive. Snapchat’s branding has always been about bringing close friends even closer one duck-face selfie at a time. Adding a search functionality makes it easier to discover content you like, but is also counterintuitive with how users are using Snapchat for years: to get goofy updates from your friends. But then again, this has always been a wall Snapchat needed to break. The verdict is still out, but it might be that Facebook can be a little bit of Snapchat, but Snapchat can’t be a little bit of Facebook.
But let’s give Snapchat the benefit of doubt here. Firstly, it has decent technology. The software is smart enough to know key details about your snap using cues from stickers, text, and the photo itself. This is the same tech they’re using to detect pornographic and sexually explicit content. Second, it’s about time Snapchat went out of the literal Friend Zone. Without adding better discoverability features, it’s risking its position with advertisers, which, at this point, is still somewhat prime.
If you think about it, the Stories Search functionality could be a sensible move.
The feature isn’t available to everyone in the world; so far, it’s only available to our friends in the U.S., but Snapchat is looking to roll out the feature in many more areas.