Snapchat’s biggest updates so far

Image: Shutterstock / WilmaVdZ

Snapchat has come a long way.

From its beginnings on the Stanford campus to the 158 million-user-strong app it is today, the app has grown and changed in ways few could have anticipated.

From its early days in 2011, when Snapchat wasn’t even called Snapchat, to the polished messaging platform it is now, here’s a look back at some of the app’s biggest updates over the last five years.

2011: Picaboo and Snapchat

In July 2011 Stanford classmates Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown launch Picaboo, described by Brown as “a game for sending disappearing pictures with your friends.” The app has 127 users by the end of July, according to TechCrunch.

Picaboo is officially renamed Snapchat later that year. The app has more than 1,000 daily active users, according to Snap’s S-1 filing.

2012: The beginning

By 2012, Snapchat had started to get popular, thanks to its disappearing messages and unconventional design. Like today’s version of the app, it launched on the camera, though the overall aesthetic was much more cartoon-like than later versions.

Later that year, Snapchat got its drawing feature, the app’s first “creative tool,” which allowed users to doodle on their photos before sending them.

In November, Snapchat launches its first Android app. In December, Snapchat adds support for video for the first time. The app ends the year with more than 100,000 daily active users.

2013: Videos, Stories and Smart Filters

By 2013, Snapchat’s design has started to evolve. The app loses its blue border and the camera icon is swapped for the circle.

The user interface gets another major overhaul in June with the introduction of the app’s gesture-based navigation. Now, users can navigate the different sections of the app by swiping across the screen.

In October, the company launches Stories as a way to “share snaps with all your friends.” But Snapchat, which still had a reputation as a sexting app, doesn’t have much early success with Stories. At the time, “fewer than [10] million Snaps were added to Stories every day,” according to Snap’s S-1 filing.

At the end of the year, the company introduces its “smart filters” which allow you add contextual information to your snaps, like the time and how fast you are moving. The app also adds a replay feature so you can rewatch one snap per 24-hour period.

2014: Our Stories, Geofilters, chat and ads

Snapchat’s first major update in 2014 comes nearly halfway through the year, in May, when the company adds text and video chatting features. These, of course, also disappear by default. With the update also comes Snapchat’s most polished look yet. The app gets a new font, iconography and redesigned menus.

The next month, the company steps up Stories with its first Our Story at the Electric Daisy Carnival music festival. Snapchat says the feature is just an experiment, but it sticks.

With Our Stories now allowing multiple users to participate in a single Story, Snapchat decides to make Snaps even more personalized with illustrated geofilters that can be added to photos and videos when you are in specific locations. The first set are tied to specific neighborhoods and landmarks in Los Angeles and New York.

Months later, prompted by a French Snapchat’s user’s request for a Paris-themed illustration, Spiegel and his team open up filter-making abilities to all users.

In October, Snapchat reaches another long-awaited milestone: its first ad. It was a 20-second trailer for the movie Ouija. It pretty much freaks everyone out.

The next month, the company introduces Snapcash, so users can exchange cash (via a partnership with Square) directly in their chats.

The app ends the years with 71 million daily active users.

2015: Discover, tap to view and lenses

Snapchat kicks off the year with its biggest update yet, a new section of the app called Discover that hosts content from a variety of publisher partners. The same update also adds scannable QR codes, called Snapcodes.

Then, in July, Snapchat shocks its users by changing one of the most recognizable parts of its app. Instead of holding down to open a message, all you have to do is tap once.

In September, Snapchat takes selfies to the next level with animated lenses that allow you to enhance your selfies with special effects. Rainbow barf is an instant hit. The same update also adds an in-app trophy case, new friend emoji and the ability to buy extra replays.

A few months later, Snapchat follows this up with another in-app purchasing feature, its Lens Store, which allows you to pay for lenses that have already appeared within the app.

Buoyed in part by the popularity of Lenses, Snapchat ends the year with more than 100 million daily active users.

2016: Video calls and Memories

In March, Snapchat upgrades its chat features with a major messaging update. The update adds voice and video calling, as well as stickers, to the app’s chat section.

In April, stickers get an upgrade with motion-tracking emoji that allow you to pin emoji to specific parts of a video.

Snapchat’s Discover section gets a new look in June with a redesign that allows publishers (including Mashable) to add cover stories to tease the content inside. Users can now also subscribe to the publishers they want to follow, in order to see those channels at the top of the app.

In July, in what is its biggest departure from its disappearing messaging roots, Snapchat adds a new feature called Memories, which adds a dedicated section where Snapchat users can save and share photos from their Camera Rolls. The update is the first time the app allows users to widely share photos not taken within the app.

Soon after, Snapchat formally integrates Bitmoji into its app. The update allows users to link their Bitmoji accounts to Snapchat and decorate their Snaps with custom characters.

In November, lenses get an upgrade with World Lenses, which use the rear-facing camera to add effects to your Snaps. More barfing rainbows come to Snapchat. A month later, the app finally adds a group messaging feature.

The app counts more than 158 million daily active users by the end of the year.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/04/snapchat-updates-five-year/