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TwitchCon: Snapchat, Squad Streams and everything else new coming to Twitch

Amazon's game streaming platform is giving viewers more ways to be a part of Twitch Streams. Also: karaoke.

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Sean Buckley/CNET

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear set the tone for the 4th annual TwitchCon early, summarizing his keynote with a single sentence: "Today you're going to hear me say community 46 times." 

Twitch isn't just a live video distribution service, it's a social platform -- and it's nothing without a strong, dedicated community. 

"We aren't just there for the show," Shear added. "We are the show." 

Owning that attitude is part of what helps Twitch compete with other live streaming platforms, and TwitchCon 2018 kicked off with new tools and updates to give Twitch streamers more ways to interact with their community and other content creators.

Here's everything Twitch just announced at TwitchCon 2018.

Squad Stream

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Sean Buckley/CNET

Twitch streamers who regularly play games like Fortnite, PUBG or Destiny 2 together have a unique problem: They're all streaming together, but their content is split between multiple streams. Viewers never get the whole show. 

With Squad Stream, Twitch is hoping to change that. Starting later this year, streamers will be able to "squad up" and simultaneously share all four of their broadcasts in a single viewer. Viewers will be able to seamlessly swap between channels and follow along with the chat of whichever stream they've selected as their main view.  

Not only does this solve the issue of fragmenting viewers between streams, but it's also built to help grow each individual content audience. Squad Stream will be tested with select streamers later this year.

Snapchat filters

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Even if Snapchat's user numbers continue to decline, their use of filters has become a hallmark of online communication in recent years. That's why the company launched Snap Cam today, an app that brings all those filters to your computer's webcam. Not only is it a fun idea, it was announced at TwitchCon.

Thanks to a custom Twitch extension, Streamers will be able to integrate Snapchat lenses into their streams. The filters can be changed based on what happens during the stream too. Get a new subscriber? You can configure the filter to celebrate with a rain of Twitch bits, or make your face explode with a purple, Super Saiyan power-up lens. Those, by the way, are part of a small library of custom filters made just for Twitch. If viewers like the filters streamers are using, they can try them out for themselves by scanning an on-screen QR code.

Twitch Sings -- a video game designed for streaming

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Community may be essential to the DNA of Twitch, but most video games are designed to be played, not watched. Twitch Sings hopes to change that -- the social streaming platform teamed up with Harmonix to create a new karaoke game designed for livestreaming.

Twitch Sings isn't exactly a virtual karaoke bar -- spectators can't take the stage and sing on the host's stream -- but it will give the audience a number of ways to interact with the talent. It's more than just requesting songs. Users in chat will be able to hide the lyrics from the singer, or issue challenges like "sing like a vampire." The game's multiplayer elements seem mostly asynchronous, but the game's announcement says there'll also be a way to sing duets with the community.

An updated Highlight Editor

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The Twitch Highlight Editor has always allowed streamers to grab the best moments from a stream and pull them out in an isolated, sharable clip. The only problem was it could pull only a single moment into a clip at a time. Starting in January, the editor will be updated with tools that let streamers pull together multiple moments from a stream into a short, best-of highlight clip.

Updated community management tools

If you've ever seen a Twitch chat, you know it can be a hectic place full of varying degrees of offensive posts. That's why moderators matter. At TwitchCon, Shear announced a suite of new tools designed to make it easier for moderators to control the community. 

Starting in January, mods will be able to click on usernames and see how long that person has been on Twitch, how many messages they've sent and how many bans and time-outs they've had. These profiles will also have a small mod-only community tab that'll let them leave comments to other moderators about the user's behavior, allowing them to call out troublemakers ahead of time.

Twitch will also be introducing VIP badges as a way for streamers to recognize members of the community without going so far as making them a moderator. Creators will have 10 badges to start (after they reach 50 followers and 5 unique chatters in a stream) and can have up to 100 to hand out to their viewers.

There are also other minor tweaks on the way, including a new roles manager page to keep track of mods and VIP users, as well as a tweak to subscription badges to show the total number of months subscribed to a channel, rather than how many months they've been subscribed sequentially.

More extensions

Finally, Twitch said it's partnering with other companies to bring even more extensions to the platform, including Snapchat (mentioned above), as well as Adobe, Tiltify, Spotify and, of course, Amazon.

You can check out more details on Twitch's upcoming changes via their company blog here.

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