Snapchat introduces new features

On November 23, a new Story Explorer was announced for Snapchat. Story Explorer is a new feature that allows users to interact more directly with events posted in stories. When using Story Explorer, a user can swipe up from the bottom of certain stories and related snaps will be displayed to possibly show the event or area from different angles.

According to the Snapchat blog, “Story Explorer relies on technology developed by our research team to provide more depth to every Snap in a Story. When you see a moment that inspires or excites you, simply swipe up to see more Snaps of that same moment — from every perspective”.

The feature will only work on specific curated stories for now, with city stories and select events being planned. As of November 23, Story Explorer only works on the New York and Los Angeles Live stories but will be rolling out to other Stories soon.

This new feature comes soon after a recent change to Snapchat’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Many users were concerned when the new policies stated that the company had the rights to reproduce, modify and republish photos and save them to Snapchat’s servers.

This change was meant to directly target Live Stories, but was the cause of both fear and confusion as users heard about the adjustments.

Snapchat made a blog post to ease some of the concerns. Snapchat stated, “The Snaps and Chats you send your friends remain as private today as they were before the update. Our Privacy Policy continues to say — as it did before — that those messages ‘are automatically deleted from our servers once we detect that they have been viewed or have expired.’”

While private messages are still private, things posted to Live Stories can be reproduced by the company as per the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. A user can use the privacy settings within the app to “restrict the scope of that license so that your personal communications continue to remain truly personal,” according to Snapchat’s blog.

Snapchat has been making several changes over the last couple of months, including the new Lenses that launched in September, and more recently, a focus on improved security. One notable change for Android power users is that Snapchat is trying to block users with root access.

According to Tomek Kondrat, a moderator for XDA-Developers (a website that focuses heavily on modifying smartphones and other devices), “Snapchat users will soon face, if not already, a serious inconvenience, as Snapchat will stop working on our devices. Yes, Snapchat will not work on rooted devices.”

This change is likely because having root privileges on an Android device allows for unintended modifications to the Snapchat app and even undesirable features such as saving Snaps without notifying the sender.

One of the more popular mods, Snapprefs offers some of the following features: stealth viewing (view snaps you receive without notifying the sender), unlimited viewing time, saving videos and pictures, and unlimited caption text in addition to many other modifications.

For users, additional features are often appealing, but for the company and the app’s success, some of these features are consequential.

The major appeal of Snapchat is the idea of self-destructing images that a person can not save. If users are circumventing the app’s built in security, it gives people reason to doubt Snapchat’s reliability for sensitive content.

Myron Jones
Tech Columnist

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