Snapchat has taken another step closer to becoming a fully-fledged augmented reality (AR) app after launching a new range of 3D World Lenses. The update allows Snapchat users to place three-dimensional animations into their surroundings using their smartphone's rear-facing camera, similar to how Pokemon Go works.

Unlike traditional Snapchat filters, the new 3D World Lenses are interactive and spatially-aware, meaning can be anchored in place so that users can explore them from every angle.

A video accompanying the announcement showed users dropping rainbows, text, flowers and other effects into the world and then walking around them.

Users can access the new feature by launching the app with the rear-facing camera and simply tapping the screen, which will bring up the available animations. Snapchat said it would offer a variety of "3D content and experiences," which will be updated regularly much like its front-facing selfie filters.

While Snap doesn't classify Snapchat as an augmented reality app it is very much seen as a base-level iteration of what the technology does, with apps like Pokémon Go serving as the next step up the AR ladder. The app has proved a big hit with millennials, leading other companies – most notably Facebook and Instagram – to incorporate similar features into their own platforms.

Recent job listings messaging start-up Snap reveal that the company is interested in developing its camera capabilities, leading to speculation that it plans to launch an AR-capable device at some point in the future.

Snap's only hardware launch to date has been Spectacles, a $130 (£110, €125) set of sunglasses featuring a built-in camera that can be used for filming video clips and sharing them with other Snapchat users.