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Snapchat Is Taking On Messaging Apps With Its New Updates

A portrait of the Snapchat logo in VenturaA portrait of the Snapchat logo in Ventura
A recent report says Snapchat is getting 6 billion video views a day.Photograph by Eric Thayer — Reuters

Snapchat never really felt like a traditional messaging app—lacking many of the common features—but that’s about to change.

On Tuesday, the ephemeral messaging app rolled out some big update to its chat feature, including stickers, video and audio notes, and calls. Snapchat already had a basic version of video calling baked into its chat feature when it first debuted in May 2014, but now it’s starting to resemble other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger.

To activate video or audio in chat, tap the phone or video camera buttons above the keyboard to make a call, or press it to record and send a snippet.

Snapchat's new video and audio calling.
Courtesy of Snapchat
Courtesy of Snapchat

To send stickers, tap the smiley button above the keyboard, or type in keywords like “love” to see relevant stickers pop up. Traditional emoji have long been part of Snapchat and users’ interactions with each other (they can be enlarged when used to decorate photos and videos), but the stickers are expanding the range of choice.

Last week, Fortune reported that Snapchat has acquired Bitstrips, the company behind the cult phenomenon of Bitmoji, customizable avatars that can be used like emoji or stickers. A Snapchat spokesman declined to comment on whether Bitstrips will be put to task to help with the new stickers and other decorations, but it wouldn’t be surprising. Bitstrips founder Jacob “Ba” Blackstock is undoubtedly the biggest asset the company is getting out of the deal. His background is in cartoon design and can surely help the company remain creative and hip for its largely teenage audience.

Snapchat threw in a couple more changes: an auto-play feature that lets users watch all their friends’ Stories in a row without having to individually tap on them, and updates to its terms of service and privacy policy. On the latter point, the company says it’s to clarify some of the language as it prepares for unnamed upcoming products.