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Snapchat’s new year-in-review feature is a reminder of how much the app has evolved

Snap is far from the simple ephemeral messaging app it once was.

A year ago, New Year’s Eve 2017 in Times Square Theo Wargo / Getty

Snapchat is doing something new this year: It’s compiling users’ old videos and photos into an end-of-year highlight video, giving users a chance to look back on some of the snaps they sent during the year.

There are a few nuances here. Snap will only use photos and videos you saved inside Memories, Snapchat’s archive feature that lets users save snaps so they don’t disappear forever.

Not everyone gets a year-end summary, either. You’ll only get one if you saved enough photos and videos throughout the year. Snap isn’t saying how many that is.

But Snapchat’s new feature, which the company is calling a “2017 Story,” is interesting for a number of reasons.

  • Showing people a bunch of old Snaps is a reminder of how far Snap has evolved from the ephemeral messaging concept that made it so popular to begin with. The days of Snapchat as an app simply for disappearing messages is long gone. A year-in-review video is another way to encourage users to save their photos and videos, and the more you rely on Snap as your archive of memories, the harder it will be to ever abandon the app for something else.
  • It’s also a reminder of the kind of “creepy” technology that Snapchat has at its disposal. The year-in-review videos are created using software that can analyze the images and text on each video or photo, which means Snap knows if you’ve taken a selfie or a sunset picture, and can read and understand any text you’ve added to those videos as well. The company spokesperson says this data is not used for other purposes, like targeting you with ads, but as big tech companies like Facebook and Google begin to rely more and more on artificial intelligence technology that can be borderline creepy (facial recognition, etc.), it’s good to remember that fun apps like Snapchat have similar capabilities.
  • The year-in-review video has been a core feature inside Facebook for years. Now Snap is borrowing the idea, which must feel nice considering how many times Facebook has copied Snapchat over the past couple of years.

You’ll find your year-in-review video inside Memories, assuming you saved enough content there to create one. The video is private just to you, unless you choose to share it with a friend.

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