Tech

Snapchat brings visual search to the fore with Scan



Snapchat

Snapchat is expanding the repertoire of its visual search with an update to a feature called Scan. Scan has been a part of the popular messaging app for awhile as a way to identify songs or solve a math problem. Thursday’s update will put the feature front and center with a button on the main page of the app while adding numerous ways that Scan can help.

If you aim your camera at clothes, Scan can recognize the style and recommend something similar that you can add to your wardrobe. Scan will be able to recognize dog breeds and types of plants or wine. Snapchat undoubtedly hopes Scan can be a robust visual search engine similar to Google Lens, and it uses augmented reality and a variety of partners like Amazon and Shazam to identify as many different types of visual input as possible.

Since Snapchat is still a visual messaging app first and foremost, Scan can even identify the type of picture you’re taking and recommend an accompanying filter or piece of music. The feature, called Camera Shortcuts, will launch on the iOS version of Snapchat on Thursday and roll out to Android by the end of the year. Shortcuts will even supposedly help you set the right camera mode to best capture the scene. 

In an interview with The Verge, Eva Zhan, Snap’s head of camera product said, “Long term, we see the camera doing a lot more than what it can do today.”

Scan will eventually be able to use old photos and screenshots through Snapchat’s Memories. At launch, you’ll be able to aim the live camera at an outfit to find something similar. Soon, you’ll supposedly be able to screenshot something you like, then use Scan to find it later through Memories. 

Snapchat’s support site lists a variety of partners that have already been integrated including Google Maps for navigation, Michelin for restaurant info, and even Lyft and Uber if you need a ride. 



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