Under the name »Snap Minis«, the US-American instant messaging service Snapchat opens up for HTML-based mini apps. By doing so, Snapchat copies the concept of super apps, which is very successful in China and other parts of Asia. In the last six years, these apps have become extremely popular due to their wide range of functions.
Snapchat Still Exists?
Yes, it does. Worldwide, 229 million users, mainly young people, are active on the platform every day. The service allows users to share photos and videos that are only available for a certain number of seconds with other users of the platform before they are automatically »deleted«.
Unlike other social media, users do not have profiles that can be filled with content. The platform is more like a diary, but it is not possible to like or comment on its content. Snapchat has recovered from a small slump in growth caused, amongst other things, by competition from Instagram as well as a poorly received redesign of the app and recently presented some promising plans for the future.
Snapchat’s Super Plans
In June 2020, Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. announced that it would expand the app’s chat section with small third-party applications. The first of these so-called »Snap Minis« are now available. The HTML-based apps allow users to complete certain tasks directly in Snapchat.
To start with, there are, for example, »Snap Minis« from the meditation app Headspace and an app developed by Snap itself that helps friends in making decisions. Furthermore, it is now possible to use the app to buy cinema tickets and create flashcards.
In another update, Snapchat will display information on cafés, restaurants and shopping centres on the map integrated in the app. Previously, this map only served the purpose of showing the location of friends.
In the future, Snapchat also wants to put pressure on Apple and Google. While the app was only able to impress with dog ears or cat whiskers when it came to augmented reality, more practical fields of application are planned for the future, for example virtually trying on sneakers or getting an impression of how cosmetics look on your own face.
Snapchat’s »Local Lenses«
At a partner conference in June, Snap Inc. also presented its expanded range of tools available to app developers in this field. It includes the »Local Lenses« feature, which scans entire streets in 3D to provide experiences in augmented reality based on these models.
The »Scan« feature identifies objects in front of the camera and displays information about them – Snapchat mentions plants and dog breeds as examples. Google built a similar visual search engine with its »Lens« tool. Snapchat, in contrast, does not do everything on its own, but serves as a platform for many different specialised services. Various apps can integrate the Snapchat camera with all its features and combine it with their own algorithms for machine learning.
Snapchat Has Its Eyes on China
Apps that also offer smaller, third-party applications are rather rare in Europe and America. In China and other emerging countries, however, the concept of so-called super apps is quite common. The app of the Chinese mobile chat service Wechat features more than one million of such mini apps.
These apps cover a wide range of services, ranging from shopping to playing games. The Indian payment apps Phonepe and Paytm can also be expanded with mini apps, which can be used to buy airline tickets or order food, for example.
It remains to be seen whether the step towards being a super app will pay off and how the blue competition will react to it. It would not be the first time that Facebook has found Snapchat features great.