LOS ANGELES: Snapchat, the image-sharing mobile app, has started to roll out a new feature that offers users the chance to swipe to obtain more information about places featured in snaps.

Dubbed Context Cards, the new tool appears at the bottom of a snap and will include location data and other relevant company information that can be accessed without having to leave the Snapchat app.

Parent company Snap announced in a statement that it has joined forces with a range of partners – including TripAdvisor, Foursquare and Michelin – to make it “easy to see more Snaps from the places that interest you”. Ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft are also involved in the initiative.

With the introduction of more search features, Snapchat is banking on users spending more time in the app, but the rollout also has clear long-term benefits for brands engaged in location-marketing.

“It’s a way to learn more about snaps that you’re viewing. We showed how communication can be made so much more engaging and fun if it’s visual,” said Evan Spiegel, Snap’s Chief Executive, in an interview with the Financial Times.

“Now we believe that people want to explore the world and learn about things in a way that’s visual-first,” he added, while hinting at future business opportunities.

“Anytime you can connect people with what interests them and connect them with more information and more opportunities, there’s usually a business there,” he said. “But it’s just so early, I think there’s a lot of work to do first.”

Some analysts and tech news portals agreed that the move has the potential to make Snapchat a better destination for users in the organisation of their everyday lives – in much the same way as WeChat is used in China, Mashable’s Kerry Flynn suggested.

“It’s a lucrative bet. If Snapchat can become where its users coordinate plans and buy things, it will become the hub for billions of dollars in transactions – and Snapchat will inevitably take a cut,” she said.

Meanwhile, Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch, commented: “This is where Snapchat has a chance to turn its everyday user engagement into a real world discovery and marketing platform that could potentially rival Yelp in terms of serendipitous discovery, and driving marketing value for restaurants, venues and destinations starting from a place of true interest.”

Sourced from Snap, Financial Times, Mashable, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff