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Snapchat's camera may help you shop at Amazon

Hidden code for a 'Visual Search' feature hints at Snap's next move.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 9, 2018
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Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Snap may rely on more than gaming to help turn around its ailing fortunes -- it might soon offer camera-assisted shopping. App researcher Ishan Agarwal has found hidden Snapchat code for a Camera Search feature (initially called Visual Search) that would use the app to identify objects and barcodes, pointing you to Amazon if it found a match. While it's not exactly certain how this would work, TechCrunch theorized that it might tie into an existing context cards system that pulls up relevant info.

Neither Amazon nor Snapchat has commented on the leak, so it's not certain if or when this might launch in a public form. There's reason to believe it's more a question of when than if, mind you. Snapchat already has a Shazam-based song finding functionality, and there's already an in-app shopping element. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to extend this to products you find in the real world. And then there's the simple issue of money -- if Snap were to use Amazon referral links, it'd get a cut of every purchase. That, in turn, might lead to more advertisers lining up knowing that sales might just be a few taps away.

Whether or not this would prove effective is another matter. If you're a Samsung phone owner, when's the last time you used Bixby to shop on Amazon? Snapchat's cross-platform support could make this object recognition technology more accessible, but it'll have to convince users that its app is about more than messaging friends and sharing Stories.

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