- Snap updated its image-messaging app Snapchat with a feature that lets users create shareable images that appear three-dimensional on a smartphone. The new 3D Camera Mode adds depth effects that move when users tilt their phones back and forth, according to a company announcement.
- The 3D Camera Mode is available in the latest iOS version of Snapchat for users with an iPhone X or later model. Older models of iPhones and Android devices can view the 3D pictures, but can't create them, TechCrunch reported.
- Snapchat also introduced a library of 3D effects, lenses and filters to add flair to users' images. The app update comes a month after Snap added 3D effects to Spectacles 3, the latest version of its camera-equipped sunglasses.
Snapchat's latest feature aims to give users another reason to use its image-messaging app amid heightened competition with social media rivals like Facebook, which also owns Instagram. About 70% of Snapchat users add augmented reality (AR) effects to the images they share on the app, according to Q1 company metrics, and the new 3D imagery will expand the creative palette for mobile users with newer iPhone models.
As TechCrunch notes, Snap's introduction of 3D effects may compel Facebook, which launched 3D images last year, to add similar effects to Instagram. Facebook and Instagram have a history of copying app features first introduced by Snapchat — most notably, AR filters and the now-popular Story format.
Snap's 3D effects may help the company to prolong recent gains that have included the addition of 13 million new users in Q2 — the greatest lift since the company went public in 2017. The company lost significant momentum last year after an app redesign alienated many users. Meanwhile, ByteDance's TikTok raced ahead to rack up 1.2 billion downloads, making it one of the most popular social media apps worldwide, per researcher Sensor Tower. TikTok is developing a strategy that aims to appeal to advertisers and monetize its massive user base.
Like TikTok, Snap is popular among U.S. teens, which can be a double-edged sword for platforms. Snap claims it reaches 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds, making it more appealing to brands that want to cultivate their next generation of loyal consumers and to creators who seek audiences they can't reach on traditional media channels like TV.