Inside Snapchat’s Newest Feature: Story Explorer

Snapchat Inc. Chief Executive Evan Spiegel grabs his iPhone, opens his Venice company's app and taps an icon for "Los Angeles."

Instantly, he's watching short, full-screen videos that Snapchat users across L.A. have recorded over the last 24 hours and given the company permission to distribute widely. It's a stream that jumps from a concertgoer's view at a One Direction performance in Hollywood to someone else's shot of a new car at the Los Angeles Auto Show to scenes at a Clippers game.

The sort-of "what's happening" in Los Angeles video is typical of the handful of Live Stories that greet Snapchat users daily. Beside cities, they chronicle holidays, presidential debates, fashion shows and more, on average drawing 10 million to 20 million viewers.

But they're also a tease: What about all the other cars at the Auto Show? Or how about a close-up of Blake Griffin, please?

Story Explorer, a new Snapchat feature debuting Monday morning, aims to address the issue, Spiegel says. It allows users to see more than just one or two vantage points of a moment.

As Spiegel put it, users don't have to settle for one view of a big NFL touchdown, for instance. They can view it "thousands" of times -- each one unique -- because so many people in the stadium filmed the play on Snapchat.

"The basic idea was we don't provide any depth inside Stories -- you're on the red carpet. Then you're at a concert for a split-second," Spiegel said during an interview last week. "It was a feeling of 'show me more,' and we're fortunate that we just get so much video submitted to us that we had the ability from a content perspective to provide depth."

Snapchat employees will continue to pick the interesting situations highlighted in a Live Story. But during any individual clip,...

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