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Snapchat’s Camera Shows its Future

One of the best ways to understand Snapchat, people at the company like to say, is to think of it as three apps bolted together: messaging, stories (and by extension Discover), and one for the camera. And while messaging and stories have dominated its past, it’s the camera app that will determine Snapchat’s future.

As Snapchat eyes its next phase of feature launches, additions to the camera will remain a central part of that strategy, according to multiple people who’ve worked closely with the company. The operative framework at Snapchat is to think of the camera as more than just a picture taking device, but as a device that consumes images as data and analyzes them. It’s a perspective described as “camera as input” by one person who's discussed strategy with Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. 

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For Snapchat, it’s an ambition that exists firmly within its wheelhouse of making communication more fun, but also extends its reach far beyond disappearing messages. And, if it works, it goes a long way to explaining where Snapchat’s true value resides.

Mitch Ahlenius and Shaunak Khire commented on this article.
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Since lenses were released late last year, the company has rolled out a series of products that rely on computer vision, including the ability to attach emojis and stickers to a moving face and scanning through a user’s photo album to find other faces.