Snapchat Adds ‘Memories’ Section to Let Users Save Stories

  • Company known for disappearing messages moves into storage
  • App adds image search tool so people can find old photos

Snapchat Inc. is no longer just about sending photos and videos that disappear.

In a major shift, the mobile app has added a new section that will let people hold on to media they choose to save -- a move that will keep users tied to Snapchat as a place to reminisce on important moments in their lives, not just share what’s happening now.

It’s called the Memories feature, where snaps and snap stories -- the ongoing stream of content from a user -- can be saved and searched for, the Los Angeles-based company said. People can then share the stories through personal messages, re-edit the snaps to add different captions and graphics, or put them in a separate password-protected folder. Previously, the app’s distinguishing feature was that photo and video messages would disappear after they were viewed.

Snapchat has evolved from a niche product for sending silly selfies into the way many people document their everyday lives. The move toward more permanent content is an acknowledgment that users were already saving their Snapchat creations, either by taking screenshots or uploading them to their phone’s camera rolls. By moving that activity inside the app, Snapchat’s 150 million daily users will have more reason to spend time there, using it to store, search and share pictures or short videos of activities such as vacations. Closely held Snapchat was valued at $18 billion after its latest round of funding in May.

The new feature also includes Snapchat’s first move into image search. Users will be able to search for simple items within photos, such as "cat" or "beach," as well as locations. The product is designed so that when people are together in person, they can easily show friends something from their feeds.

The Memories feature will also automatically show saved snaps that were sent a year earlier, building on the social media trend of sharing something from the past. Facebook has a similar feature, called "On This Day." On Instagram, it’s popular to use the hashtag #TBT for "throwback Thursday" along with an old photo.

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