Word of a new Snapchat camera feature in the works — which would let users scan products and send them to Amazon listings — sent the social media company’s stock trading 3 percent higher Monday. That was after a TechCrunch report about the development of the feature, which would turn the camera into what’s essentially a visual search engine.
The news generated a round of headlines in the tech press. But credit for the scoop, as TechCrunch acknowledged in its piece, goes to a 15-year-old app researcher. Ishan Agarwal — @IshanAgarwal24 on Twitter.
Ishan, it should be noted, has also tipped off TechCrunch before to other in-development features that led to product scoops. Things like Instagram video calling, soundtracks and Focus portrait mode, among other things.
Snap hasn’t yet commented about the code discovery, which makes mention of “sending data to Amazon, Shazam and other partners.” The code also refers to offering a “see all results at Amazon” button after a barcode is scanned, though there’s not really anything specific around whether this is a partnership with Amazon of some kind or if Snapchat will just be directing users there.
The new feature is code-named “Eagle.” TechCrunch notes it “may be connected to Snapchat’s ‘context cards,’ which debuted late last year and pull up business contact info, restaurant reservations, movie tickets, Ubers or Lyfts and more.
“Surfacing within Snapchat a context card of details about ownable objects might be the first step to getting users to buy them… and advertisers to pay Snap to promote them. It’s easy to imagine context cards being accessible for products tagged in Snap Ads as well as scanned through visual search.”
A feature like this could provide Snapchat’s parent — which reported a $385 million loss last quarter — with some fresh revenue, at a time when the product has been endlessly copied by Facebook and its myriad social properties.
This latest news out of Snap is also an example of the company trying to squeeze more use out of the camera than simply to add rainbow barfs and dog ears to funny pictures to send to friends. And it suggests the company is picking up the pace in terms of feature development. Among the things Snapchat has rolled out over the last several months are Snappables, which are simple AR games you can play with friends; plus custom geofilters and group video chat, to name a few.