While Snapchat is more famous for its much-copied disappearing messages and AR effects, they’re now sort-of branching out into new territory. The Scan feature is now being put front and center in the camera app so users will be able to identify things around them as well as figure out which AR effect to use on their post. This is a step for Snapchat to become more than just a messaging app but a contender as a visual search engine.

Putting the Scan feature in a prominent place within the Snapchat camera is a big deal. Back when they were the first ones to do stories-like ephemeral features, the camera being the first thing you see when you open the app had a lot to do with its popularity. So if you have Scan there front and center, Snapchat is hoping that users will also be able to take advantage of its visual search feature. It would also work if they have a good library to give users the information they need.

The Verge reports that more than 170 million people are already using Scan at least once a month, according to Snap itself. And now that they’re making it central to the Snapchat camera, they’re making it a priority going forward as per Eva Zhan, head of Snap’s camera product. Initially, the Scan feature was there to add friends through QR codes and eventually to partner with Shazam to identify songs and Photomath to solve problems.

The new version of Scan can now do things like identify dog breeds, plants, wine, cars, and food nutrition info. A lot of the features are actually powered by other companies like Vivino for the wines. All Recipes will soon suggest recipes based on an ingredient that you scan. Another useful thing for users is camera shortcuts that will help you find the AR effect or Lens that you can use based on what you point your camera at .There’s also a shopping feature that will tell you where you can buy items or at least similar items to what’s in front of your camera.

Visual search is of course not something new. Google launched Lens back in 2017 and is now integrated into Pixel phones and several other Google apps. Pinterest also has its own Lens visual search feature. Let’s see if Snapchat will be able to make Scan an important feature for its app.


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