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DUBAI: Social media company Snap Inc. used its recent annual partner summit as the stage to announce new features and tools for consumers, developers, and advertisers.

According to its chief executive officer, Evan Spiegel, the firm’s Snapchat messaging app and service now reaches more than 600 million people every month, has more than 332 million daily active users around the world, and works with around 500,000 partners, creators, and developers.

Over the past year, Snapchatters have shared content from other apps — such as songs from Spotify or tweets from Twitter — at least 6 billion times on Snapchat.

The ephemeral platform revolves around the camera, so much so that Snap calls itself a camera company. A big part of the camera functionality on the app is Lenses. Globally, developers have built more than 2.5 million Lenses that have been viewed in excess of 5 trillion times.

Last year, nearly 90 percent of Snapchat users in Saudi Arabia interacted with augmented reality Lenses on a daily basis — on average at least 30 times each day.

Building on Lenses, Snap announced the launch of Lens Cloud, a freely available collection of backend services such as storage, location, and multi-user services.

The studio will soon feature ray tracing, which will make it possible for reflections to shine from AR objects in a realistic way.

The growth of e-commerce, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, resulted in many shoppers looking to purchase directly from within social media apps. The challenge with shopping online is often the inability to try on clothes or accessories, but AR has the potential to change that.

Since January 2021, more than 250 million Snapchat users have engaged with AR shopping Lenses at least 5 billion times. They also rank Snapchat the No. 1 platform for sharing shopping moments.

They mostly use Snapchat’s AR technology for trials. For example, Lenses that used true-size technology drove a 42 percent higher return on ad spend compared to Lenses without.

In the Middle East and North Africa too, shopping via AR is gaining popularity, resulting in Snap launching what it claims to be the first-ever AR-led virtual mall in the MENA region, featuring leading brands such as L’Oreal, IKEA, Namshi, and Samsung.

Last year, Ramadan campaigns for retailers running an AR lens on Snapchat delivered a 4.3 times higher average purchase value compared to other formats.

The company is now introducing several new technologies to provide brands with more opportunities to reach audiences. These include a new kind of shopping Lens for trying on outfits, powered by its AR image processing technology, and Dress Up, a dedicated fashion space in Lens Explorer that allows users to browse, discover, and share new looks.

The new destination “brings together the best of AR fashion and try-on for creators, retailers, and fashion brands,” said Carolina Arguelles Navas, Snap’s head of AR business strategy. 

She noted that interacting with products in AR had a 94 percent higher conversion rate. Snap was also reimagining its try-on experience by allowing users to try on clothes for the first time.



In addition to lenses and commerce, Snap announced a host of new features for developers and creators, both of which are integral to Snapchat.

After Spectacles, Snap is launching another product, a camera drone called Pixy or “the world’s friendliest flying camera,” as Spiegel described it. “It’s a pocket-sized free-flying sidekick for adventures,” he said.

Pixy takes pictures and wirelessly transfers them to Snapchat Memories from where users can edit and share or download them. It is only available for purchase in the US and France while supplies last.

There has so far been no announcement as to whether it will be restocked once supplies run out or made available in other countries.

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