Following the release of the wildly popular gender-swap and baby filters, Snapchat, the photo sharing company saw weekly app downloads double, a sign that its user growth strategy through product innovation is working.

This is according to data from Sensor Tower, the mobile analytics company, via OneZero, Medium’s tech channel, which shows that prior to the 8th May – launch day – weekly app downloads had hovered between the three and five million downloads mark.

Then, something weird happened. That week, downloads pushed beyond six million. The following week, downloads rocketed to over 12 million. Over the next two weeks to the end of May, downloads dipped slightly but remained at over 10 million. All figures are Sensor Tower estimates.

This constituted more than a doubling of monthly downloads. In April, the app was downloaded 16.8 million times; in May, that figure rocketed to 41.5 million.

Snapchat, Snap Inc.’s flagship product, first introduced lenses in 2015, and have become a common part of the app experience ever since. The new gender-swap and toddler face functionalities sit among the lens options in the app, but only work once the user captures a stable, static image for the program to recognise.

The new functions have created a raft of buzz and press, based on the rounding and softening of adult users’ features (the baby filter) or the squaring/softening of jawlines and the addition or subtraction of long hair in the gender-swap filters.

Unsurprisingly, the filters have drawn criticism and scorn for being transphobic or promoting outdated ideas of gender. Other headlines were less analytical: “Snapchat’s new gender-swapping filter is hilarious”. Elsewhere, men have used the filter to create fake Tinder profiles, which have illuminated to some the aggressive behaviour women face on dating apps. This week, a police officer was arrested having attempted to hook up with a 16-year-old girl online, after a 20-year-old male college student using the gender-swap function reported him.

It appears that the move from Snap suggests something of a resurgence in the company’s momentum, which has faced a rocky road ever since its IPO in 2017. One of the core worries for investors that is pushing down share prices is that user numbers have remained low following outflows in 2018.

The other has been the introduction of copycat products by Facebook and others. In April, the company announced the features of a Snap Kit API that would allow other companies to integrate not only Snap’s image software but also its ad platform into their products.

This growth, if sustained, could be the tonic Snap has been looking for.

Sourced from: OneZero, WARC, Financial Times, The Verge, ClickOrlando