Snapchat warps reality with backdrops and mask-free voice filters

Plus, a new way to share links in your Snaps.

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Snapchat users today have three more tools designed to make their lives look (and sound) magical -- backdrops, a discrete voice-filter option, and paperclip, a way to add links to images and videos.

Backdrops allow Snapchatters to place images "behind" people or objects in photo messages. To add a background to a Snap, tap the scissors icon in the vertical toolkit and then select the new Backdrop icon (a diagonally striped square). Trace over whatever you want to be in the foreground, choose a Backdrop image and watch the magic happen. There will be a selection of images to choose from, with new backgrounds rotated in daily.

Voice filters aren't new for Snapchat, but today's update breaks the tool out of Lenses for anyone to use at any time, no doggy ears required. After recording a video Snap, tap the speaker icon to see a range of voices, including a cute little chipmunk, a beastly bear and a robot.

Paperclip lets users attach websites to their Snaps. Take a Snap, tap the paperclip icon in the vertical toolkit and add in your link: Viewers will be able to swipe up to view the link within Snapchat itself.

In its February IPO filing, Snapchat announced it had 158 million users. That's nothing to sneeze at, though competition is fierce in the disappearing-message space: Instagram Stories, which has a history of cloning Snapchat's best ideas, has more than 200 million users and it's not yet one year old.

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