Sick of being forced to use “login with Facebook?” You might soon have an alternative and it could come from a company you’d least expect: Snap.
The historically closed off company is reportedly working on a new developer platform called “SnapKit.” It would allow developers to tap into parts of Snapchat for their own services, including a kind of social login that would let users access third-party services using their Snapchat credentials.
The move, first reported by TechCrunch, would be a significant departure for the company, which up until now has been resistant to letting third-party developers onto its platform.
According to the report, there are a couple of different aspects to the so-called SnapKit platform. There’s the social login, akin to Facebook’s ubiquitous “login with Facebook” button, which would also incorporate a user’s Bitmoji avatar.
But aside from the login tool, Snap is also reportedly working on features that would let developers tap into the app’s camera and augmented reality features. With the tool, app developers could rely on Snap’s AR camera instead of having to build out their own augmented reality features, which could be a time consuming effort.
It’s not clear when all this could launch, but there have been other signs that Snap is looking to build out its relationships with third-party developers. Mashable reported in March that the beta version of the Snapchat app included a new setting for “connected apps.”
The feature didn’t give any indication of what apps might be working with Snapchat, but it did indicate that the app would soon have a way to manage apps that have access to your Snapchat account.
A Snap spokesperson declined to comment on SnapKit. But the move would come at a crucial time for the company, which is facing lackluster user and revenue growth, as well as backlash against its recent redesign.
Those struggles may have motivated Snap to consider working with third-party developers in ways it hasn’t in the past. Snap ramped up efforts to push out third-party developers in 2015 after a series of shady apps that purported to help users save the app’s ephemeral messages led to security issues. (Snap didn’t offer an official API at the time, but enterprising developers were able to reverse engineer one.)
Since then, the company’s been much more controlling about which services are allowed to access its platform, even as it’s grown a bit more open.
But, faced with increasingly devastating competition from Facebook and a redesign backlash that just won’t go away, a developer platform could look much more attractive than it once did. Besides being able to capitalize on public squeamishness on using the “login with Facebook” button in the wake of Cambridge Analytica, it could help boost Snapchat’s visibility.
And, if the company does opt to open up its vaunted camera and AR tech to third party developers. it could help juice the app’s flagging engagement, too. By giving developers a way to use Snapchat’s effects outside of Snapchat, it could reach a whole new set of users it’s not currently engaging.
And, if it goes really well, they might just turn into new Snapchat fans, too.