Snapchatters got a huge surprise this morning when an update appeared, bringing in some interesting new features to the app.

The original Snapchat was all about sharing instant moments with friends, having your own picture timeline, and seeing who was ‘interacting’ with someone else; a feature many people loved, a feature that caused some heartbreak amongst couples and much angst amongst groups - but, it was brilliant. Sadly the Top Friends feature was removed much to the dismay of the users, and in came a slight UI refresh, friend name emojis and a Discover tab which many people don’t seem to want to use. This was our Snapchat.

See Also: The Biggest Social Media Trends of 2016

We were then introduced to Snapchat Lenses, a fun and creative way to take a selfie. By turning the camera to front facing and pressing and holding onto your face, Snapchat momentarily scans your  face to determine where to place the filter. This took selfies to a whole new level, with everyone at one time or another sporting a bunny or a faceswap.

The latest update now makes Snapchat a serious competitor to both iMessage and WhatsApp by adding phone, audio, and note functionality; while incorporating it's signature snaps. And what better way to introduce an update than with a dedicated Discover Channel showing users the new functionality?

See Also: The Ultimate Social Network UI Throwback #TBT

With 'Chat 2.0', you start by sending a few chats, and when your friend shows up, start talking or video chatting instantly with one tap. Your friend can simply listen if you want to sing them a song, or watch if you have something to show them. If they aren’t there, you can quickly send an audio note to say what you mean, or even a sticker!  You can easily transition between all these ways of communicating — just like you do in person.

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Updates to the Snapchat app

The update also introduces Auto-Advance Stories, the fastest way to catch up with your friends. When you finish a Story, the next one begins automatically — simply swipe to skip ahead, or pull down to exit.

A lot of people criticised Evan Spiegel for turning down Facebook's $3B offer, but as of today you can begin to understand why.

“There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this,”... “I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.”

Spiegel is a long term thinker, and the tech industry needs more people like him. Not only are we seeing Facebook acquire more and more startups flooding the market with facebook rebranded applications, but it is closing the gap allowing creative new minds to shine through and explore new technologies.

Snapchat has only been around for 4 years, yet it has proved itself time and time again to be a standalone, powerful force in an extremely monopolised social tech arena.

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