Snapchat's refreshed Scan AR feature can identify objects around you

Apple iPhone with Snapchat
Apple iPhone with Snapchat (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Snapchat has a revamped Scan feature that can use AR to identify things around you.
  • Scan is now a main feature within the app and is immediately available on launch.

Snapchat is changing the way its Scan AR feature works and it's making it much more obvious that it exists by putting it front and center when the app launches.

First reported by The Verge, Snapchat's Scan feature can now look at your surroundings and then use what it sees to make recommendations for things like music, camera mode, and Lens. Snap calls these camera shortcuts. Eva Zhan, Snap's head of camera features, explained how scan shortcuts work in the updated app.

Another core pillar of Scan is what Snap calls camera shortcuts. It works by recommending a combo of a camera mode, soundtrack, and Lense. So if you point the camera at the sky, Lenses specifically designed to work with the sky will be shown alongside a song clip and color filter, letting you apply all the changes at once. According to Zhan, Snap is working to add camera shortcuts to its TikTok rival Spotlight, potentially letting the viewer of a video quickly jump into their camera with the same configuration used to create the video they just watched.

As might be predictable, another change is the ability for Scan to detect more things so people can buy them. Scan can now look at clothes and other items in view and then offer similar items for purchase. This was all made possible by Snap's buyout of Screenshot, the report says. The company previously specialized in taking photos of items and identifying them so they could be bought.

It's clear that Snapchat is as much about finding ways to make Snap money as it is sharing cool video clips and the expansion of Scan's capabilities are another example of that. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course, and snap shortcuts could prove to be a great way to help people be more creative without the hassle involved with picking the right music etc.

The report over on The Verge has more information on the revamped Scan as well as comments from the company itself.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.