While its competitors — cough, cough, Instagram — continue to copy most everything it does, Snapchat is keeping busy trying to stay novel. And while that backfires sometimes, today’s newest addition to the app seems like it’ll actually be handy. Starting today, Snapchat users can contribute to communal Custom Stories. Custom Stories will let users select who can contribute and who is able to see the story. Stories can also be geofences to a specific location, like if you’re at a music festival and only want other people who are also there to see and add to your story. Stories expire 24 hours after the last snap is added to them.
Ignoring the fact that Snapchat’s promo for Custom Stories looks like something out of the Fyre Festival video playbook — female models in swimsuits having a blast among beautiful scenery — Snapchat seems to have a great idea of how users will actually use this feature. Now, instead of badgering your friends to send you photos and videos — or taking screenshots with the countdown-clock icon in the upper-right-hand corner — you’ll all contribute to a Custom Story, like a big, animated scrapbook of your vacation, birthday party, or group trip to the dentist. And when you’re done, you’ll be able to more easily save that scrapbook to your phone.
Only a Custom Story’s creator will be able to save the entire story to their phone; contributors will be able to save the content they submit personally, but not the entire collection of submitted snaps. Which means you’ll have to agree ahead of time who is going to create the Custom Story, and if that’s not you, make them promise to send it over when all is said and done. Still, it seems easier than nagging half a dozen people for photos and videos you’ll probably never actually receive. (Google recently announced a photo feature designed to curb this issue at its annual I/O conference.) Custom Stories are available to all users today.