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(Pocket-lint) - Snapchat introduced a new feature called Lenses in September. They were free at the time, but now they cost money if you want to keep them.

Snapchat is actually launching a Lens store, with the purpose of letting you buy Lenses for $0.99 apiece. You will still be able to use some Lenses for free, though. If you're confused about what this means and what Lenses even are, we've explained all you need to know below.


Here's everything we know so far about Lenses and the new Lens Store, including how how it all works...

Snapchat: What is it?

Snapchat launched in 2011 and is a fun messaging application for sharing moments. You can take a photo or a video, then add a caption or doodle or Lens, and send it to a friend. Friends can view your individual snaps for up to 10 seconds, and then it disappears forever, making the app ephemeral in nature. You can also add snaps to a "story", which publically broadcasts your snaps to your followers for 24 hours. 

As of May 2014, the app's users were sending 700 million photos/videos per day. While that's all fine and dandy, many people have been left stumped by Snapchat. They can't seem to understand why someone would send brief pictures or videos to friends if they can't be saved (well, you can take screenshots of them). If you're one of those people, check out this piece, in which we explain the point of Snapchat.

Snapchat: What are Lenses?

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Lenses are basically a way to augment your selfies.

They are often goofy animations that are overlaid on top of your selfie. One popular Lens, which debuted when Lenses were first introduced, is a rainbow that pours out of your mouth like vomit. Snapchat adds news ones daily, and there always only seven to choose from, but Snapchat replaces the oldest one with a newer one each day. That means Lenses eventually disappear for good.

Snapchat said its users are including Lenses in about 10 million snaps a day.

Snapchat: How do Lenses work?

  • Open Snapchat
  • Go to the Camera screen (should be the first screen after opening Snapchat)
  • If your rear-facing camera is active, switch to the camera so that it faces you (tap the top-right button)
  • Press and hold on your face, and then Lens options will appear below
  • Swipe left to select a Lens
  • Follow any on-screen instructions (like ‘Raise Your Eyebrows')
  • Tap the capture button to take a Snap, or press and hold on the capture button to record a video

Snapchat: What's the new Lens store?

Lenses arrived the same day that Snapchat announced it would begin selling "replays" of your friends' snaps. You were previously allowed to replay a snap once, before it disappeared forever, but with replays, you are allowed to pay for the ability to play back snaps repeatedly.

Now, with the new Lens store, Snapchat has begun monetising Lenses. It is essentially letting you purchases Lenses for $0.99 in order to keep them forever. So, as of 13 November, the latest version of Snapchat now offers 30 paid Lenses each day. Once you buy a Lens, it will appear between the still-available free ones (again, there will be around seven each day) and the new paid ones. Simples.

Also, Snapchat is selling some of the old free Lenses, such as the rainbow one. 

Snapchat: How do you buy a Lens?

  • Follow the above steps (under 'Snapchat: How do Lenses work?') to access Lenses
  • There's no Lens Store per say; paid Lenses are seamlessly included next to free ones
  • Swipe past the free Lenses to get to the Lenses you can buy
  • Tap the Lens icon you want to buy, then follow the instructions to complete your purchase
  • Lenses cost $0.99 apiece

Snapchat: Where is the Lens Store available?

Paid Lenses are available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and a few other European countries. Snapchat plans to expand their availability to other countries soon.

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Want to know more?

Check out Snapchat's Help Center for more details. You can also check out this piece for Snapchat tricks and tips you probably had no clue about.

Writing by Elyse Betters.