Attention selfie addicts, we have some good news: you might never run out of Snapchat lenses again.
On Tuesday the app is launching Lens Explorer, a new feature that makes it easier to find the thousands of user-created augmented-reality lenses in its app.
The new feature, currently only available on iOS, will appear whenever you’re in the app’s existing lens carousel. A new smiley-face icon will appear at the top of the screen, which will direct you to a separate section for “community lenses.”
These will include both selfie lenses and world lenses, the AR filters that use the phone’s rear camera. Lenses you unlock will temporarily appear in the main lens carousel.
What makes all these extra lenses different from Snapchat’s typical selection is that they were created by other Snapchat users, not the company’s in-house artists. Snap has let users experiment with lens creation tools since last year, but the user-created filters haven’t been very prominent within the app.
Until now, the discovery process for those “community created” lenses was limited. Snap would periodically highlight a few of the most popular lenses in a dedicated section in Discover, and artists could also share their own creations with fans via Snap Codes.
Despite these limitations, Snap says its user-created lenses have been popular. Since Lens Studio, the app’s lens-creating software, was first released in 2017, users have submitted more than 100,000 lenses, which have been viewed a collective 2.5 billion times, according to the company. By putting those lenses front and center in the app, they could get even more attention.
Features like Lens Explorer have become increasingly important to Snap in recent months. After shunning many of the trappings of influencer culture that dominate Instagram, the company has slowly taken steps to win back high-profile users with new features like analytics for verified accounts. Having a way to show off their creations could be another way for the company to court some some bigger names among its users.
Lenses are important to Snap for other reasons, too. As Snap tries to differentiate itself from Facebook and Instagram, it boosts the company’s credibility as a platform for artists and creative types, not just a place where, in the words of Evan Spiegel, “people compete with each other online for attention.”
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