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What’s new at Snapchat? Highlights from Snap Partner Summit 2020

Snapchat recently announced major updates at its virtual Snap Partner Summit 2020.

Its new augmented reality (AR) use cases won’t only benefit users, but businesses too. From an improved camera kit and filters to listings on maps, there are new ways for brands to use the platform.

There are a lot of fun things happening, so let’s jump in.

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New Camera Kit

The foundation of many of the new updates is the camera kit. The camera software can now be integrated with external apps, opening up many new possibilities. 

“You’ll notice that in a lot of our announcements: AR and the camera is actually threading its way into many of the other things we’re doing,” explained Bobby Murphy, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer to the Guardian. “We’re at the early stages of seeing AR and the vision of the camera being the centre of computing coming together.”

Here’s a taste of what the camera can do:

  • In the app Scan, the camera can identify plants, trees and animal breeds
  • In the app Yuka, the camera can tell a user the nutritional info of packaged foods
  • It can scan consumer products to access more information and shop

Snapchat has offered filters for creativity for many years, but now the camera will also have utility. Snapchat plans to see its use cases continue to grow.

Lense Studio

With the new lens studio, third parties can use their own machine learning to develop lenses. 

In March, Snapchat released a nearly free filter building tool for brands. Now, the platform is pushing AR adoption even further with Lense Studio by allowing external parties to contribute their own ideas and models. 

“That’s something creators have been really wanting for a long time,” explained chief technology officer at Houndstooth Media Group Rhonda Greene to AdAge. “Creators have all these cool models and all these ideas that come out of being in that machine-learning space, so it’s nice that the tool is catching up to their ideas.”

Another cool feature coming out of this is that users can use a voice-activated tool to tell Snapchat which feature they want to apply to their environment.

Snap Map

Snapchat is advancing its 3D maps this year by allowing users to see where their friends are located and create geography-specific lenses.

 “[W]e’re taking it a step further, by enabling shared and persistent augmented reality in much larger areas, so you can experience AR with your friends, at the same time, across entire city blocks” explained Murphy.

It is also encouraging business listings and videos from specific locations. 

The platform is giving new partners $500 in ad credits to list their stores as a way to grow momentum. It expects this to be a powerful tool for businesses because over 200 million people use maps every month.


Minis are small apps that can be opened in Chat. They offer a great user experience because users can reserve movie tickets, compare class schedules, review flashcards together and more all in the same app. 

These programs are built on html5 and don’t require additional downloads. This concept is similar to the Chinese messaging app, WeChat.

Bitmoji for Games

Mattel and Nickelodeon integrated their mobile games with Snapchat’s new Bitmoji for Games. This provides a more personalized gaming experience for their players — Snapchat users can put their own avatars into the games.  

Happening now

Snapchat takes on Twitter, whose slogan is “What’s happening?,” with its new “Happening Now” section. This section partners with major news publications to inform users of the latest updates. During COVID and racial justice movement, Snapchat became another source people turn to for information. The Twitter user base has an interest in news and politics, but Snap may gain more of this traffic.

Snap Focus: An Ads Certification Course

Snapchat’s AR capabilities make advertising on the platform unique. To help advertisers make the most of its tools, Snapchat released a new ads certification program: Snap Focus

There are 6 courses that offer “everything you need to know about Snapchat ads.”

Ad managers can complete all 6 courses or choose the ones they want to advance their skills in most. It’s free and flexible. 

Snapchat is unique because of its use of AR and machine learning. It’s constantly innovating — and we’ll have to keep watching to see how advertisers take advantage of its new developments.