Snapchat's new 'Dreams' feature uses generative AI to remix users' selfies

The feature will have free and paid components.


Snapchat has added a new generative AI feature to its app. Called “Dreams,” it’s in some ways similar to the company’s signature AR effects, known as lenses. But instead of real-time camera-based effects, the feature uses generative AI to remix users’ selfies into “fantastical images that transform their persona into new identities.”

The feature, which can be found in the app’s “memories” section, begins by asking users to take selfies showing their face at different angles. The app will then creates a series of eight images based on themes like “time travel” or “alternate universes.” Eventually, Snap says, users will be able to create Dreams that include their friends’ likenesses as well.

Dreams is the latest generative AI experiment from the company, which launched its MyAI chatbot earlier this year using OpenAI’s models. (Dreams uses open source tools and internal data, though the company hasn’t provided details about specific partners.)

The feature also highlights how the company is using interest in the technology as a source of revenue. MyAI was initially limited to Snapchat+, the app’s premium subscription tier, before it was released to all the app’s users this spring. The company has since added specialized features for subscribers, including the ability for MyAI to reply to photo Snaps with its own AI-generated images.

Likewise, Dreams will have both a free and paid component. Snap is allowing non-Snapchat+ subscribers to access just one — so use it wisely — “pack” of eight selfies, while subscribers will get access to one pack a month (the company says it plans to update Dreams with new themes and styles regularly). All users will be able to buy additional packs for a $0.99 in-app purchase.

Look closely and you can find artifacts common in AI generated imaged.
Look closely and you can find artifacts common in AI generated imaged. (Snap)

In practice, the images appear to have some of the same limitations as other AI-based image generators. A promotional image shared by Snap showed what appeared to be the tips of partial fingers strangely placed over the subject's chest. When I tried Dreams to create my own AI selfies, some of the resulting images also had strange-looking hands, though it at least showed the correct number of fingers placed in an anatomically correct position.

Still, I can see how the feature could keep Snapchat users — who have collectively sent more than 10 billion messages to MyAI — coming back. And as tools like Midjourney have moved behind paywalls, Snap’s offerings might just seem like a better deal for those looking to try out generative AI.