Today, Snapchat announced a new feature called “Memories,” which, as the name implies, provides a more permanent record of user activity on Snapchat. Users can file their photos and videos away to the Memories section, where the posts are stored in the cloud and can be viewed and inserted into future messages and stories.
It’s a way to reuse and remix snaps into new messages and narratives. Snaps older than a day will appear in a frame clearly marking them as such, but you’ll still be able to add geofilters and stickers, even if you’re in a complete different locale. So you can make everyone jealous of your vacation after you get back. Memories also has a passcode-locked vault called My Eyes Only where you can save sensitive (read: nude) images whenever you want to pass around your phone.
Here is an extremely West Coast video that vaguely conveys the feature.
This is all well and good, but it’s also easy to see it as a dilution of some of Snapchat’s core principles — the same principles that have made it such an appealing alternative to social-media behemoths like Facebook. What is the appeal of a Snapchat that lets users save and send snaps at times other than “in the moment”? A primary feature of Snapchat is that you’re seeing things that were taken and uploaded as they happened, because Stories expire in 24 hours.
With Memories, users can upload and post anything from their camera rolls to Stories. For many users, this might be a nice addition offering them more flexibility, but it also introduces the danger of turning Snapchat into, well, everyone else — another repository for you to upload photos and videos to, with some cutesy filters and emoji captions.
Worse, along with your friends’ concert snaps, you can expect accounts called things like “GreatVines” hawking watermarked freebooted videos from Vine or Instagram or ESPN. By letting users import the aesthetics of other social networks, Snapchat risks diluting its own distinct look and feel.
Whether or not that happens is up to users, and Snapchat’s lack of outside sharing or discoverability certainly bottlenecks that effect more than other visual networks like Instagram and Tumblr. But the main concern remains: What separates Snapchat from all of the other places where you can upload and store photos? The answer is probably “not much.”