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Snapchat steps up challenge to Instagram with host of new camera features

Snapchat steps up challenge to Instagram with host of new camera features

Snapchat has unveiled a host of new camera tools, including a Looping Video feature, as it gears up to take on Instagram.

The messaging app, which is due to file its first quarterly results, since going public, on Wednesday, has also dialed back on its trademark ephemerality with a new service that lets users share a Snap for an infinite time.

Dubbed Limitless Snaps, the tool will let Snapchatters share images with their select friends without restricting the amount of time the recipient can keep the image open. Images will still disappear after they've been viewed, but the Snap automatically close after a set number of seconds.

The platform has also introduced a Looping Video service, which isn't too dissimilar to Twitter's now defunct Vine service, as well as a Magic Eraser which can be used to make objects in pictures disappear. It has also added the ability to doodle on images with emojis.

The creative toolkit now appears at the side of the screen for Snapchat users, with the launch aligning with Snap's wider ambitions to be a camera company. Just last month, the app revealed World Lenses – a product that expanded its augmented reality capabilities beyond selfies and placed an emphasis on the rear view camera.

The move from Snap to step up its game follows on from relentless competition from the likes of Facebook and Instagram - both of which have aped its original features like Stories and disappearing messages.

When it went public Snapchat's parent company promised investors growth, not profit. Last week it announced plans to further open up its ad inventory to brands in the UK, US, Canada and more with the introduction of a new self-serve platform; a move which could result in a long-term revenue bump for the app.

In the short-term, however, data from Verto Analytics estimates that audience growth in the US - Snap's largest market - was fairly flat, decreasing by 67,000 to hit 36.3 million. The numbers do note that there was "strong growth" in the key 18 to 24 age group adding 1.37 million users.

According to a report from TechCrunch the upstart has ambitious plans to pull in up to $1bn this year, but eMarketer trimmed its forecasts in March - estimating that the platform will attract $770m of ad budgets in 2017.

Snap Inc's first quarterly results will be unveiled on Wednesday.

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