Snapchat wants you to watch more Stories, so it’s making them easier to discover.
The app on Friday released the ability (in specific cities) to search for Stories with the nifty search bar they introduced to the top of the main screen back in January.
Type in puppies, for example, and you may find a Story of… well, puppies. Bye forever, world. I’ll just be watching Snapchat videos of puppies all day.
Here’s a YouTube (haha) video explaining how it works:
On first glance, it may look like the opposite of what Snapchat has been preaching: a place for you and your close personal friends to connect and communicate.
Snap is still a place for friends, first. You’ll see Chat is above Stories in the photo above. The update also surfaces Stories “around me” as well as local “attractions.”
Snapchat’s interest in being for your close friends is great, but it also seems that Snap wants to take advantage of all the awesome photos and videos it receives and help you get lost in the Snapchat world, kind of like what can happen on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. In other words, Snapchat is figuring out how to keep you in its app longer.
This update comes at a difficult time for Snap. Facebook has recently released four clones of its Snapchat’s Stories product: Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, Messenger Day and WhatsApp Stories.
Snapchat, the smaller app for sure, had Stories first. The product launched back in October 2013, beginning first with My Stories that allowed individual Snapchat users to stitch together individual photos and videos that would last only 24 hours each. Snapchat released Our Story in June 2014, which opened up geofences around particular areas and allowed Snapchat users to submit to a story that was then curated.
The motivation for this update, per Snapchat, was to do something with all the snaps they received but couldn’t previously put into a singular narrative, according to a Snap Inc. spokesperson.
“Over time, the number of Snaps that were created by our community and added to Our Story simply overwhelmed our curation team and inspired us to create something new,” Snap wrote in a blog post.
There are more than one million Stories on Snapchat, according to Snap.
Users can find snaps for a local basketball game, their favorite bar or puppies, as previously referenced.
So how does it work? It’s all a bunch of machine learning, something that may have been built in-house and also brought in via an acquisition of a little known company called Vurb last year. Snapchat’s tech is able to understand caption text, time and visual elements. That also means being able to recognize inappropriate photos that violate Snap’s terms and conditions, such as porn and violence.
These Stories are updated in real-time and could include snaps for longer than 24 hours. At launch, Stories in Search is only available in select U.S. cities. Snap said it plans to introduce the experience to more areas.
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