Get ready to see a lot of new face lenses in Snapchat.
Today, Snap announced it’s opening up the ability for anyone to create a selfie lens using its Lens Studio software. Previously, the company only allowed users to make “world lenses” (those are the ones that use the rear-facing camera), so this is a significant expansion of its creator-focused tools.
To start, the company is adding seven new templates to Lens Studio, which allow people to create 2D and 3D augmented reality selfie lenses.
For the most selfie-addicted users, this means you’ll now have a lot more selfie lenses to choose from. In addition to the regular selection of lenses that rotate through the app on any given day, you can unlock new face filters created by other Snapchat users and artists.
But don’t expect a boatload of new lenses to all show up in the lens carousel all at once. Instead, Snapchat will highlight some of its most popular lenses in a new section of Discover. Users can then swipe up to unlock a lens while tapping through the story. Lens creators can also share Snapcodes that can be used to unlock the lenses.
Additionally, Snap is also launching a new “Official Creator Program” for its top lens creators. Those who are part of the program will get extra support from Snap and are more likely to have their creations featured by the company.
For Snap, the new features are its latest move to expand its AR tech and turn more of its creation tools over to its users. Besides the obvious benefits of increasing the amount of AR content on its platform, the new tools could also help with Snapchat’s longterm engagement.
As the company looks for fresh ways to keep users around and compete with Instagram, building a more defined creator community could help keep high profile users — and their audiences — around for longer. It also helps Snap bolster its credibility as a platform for artists and creators, rather than just celebs and social media “influencers.”