Snap Inc. is a camera company, and on the day of F8, Facebook’s annual conference for developers, they want to remind the tech industry, Wall Street, and their loyal users of that mission.
Snapchat is launching new world lenses, an expansion of its world lens feature (released just ahead of Spectacles in November) that puts animated objects like vomiting rainbow clouds in the real world, as seen through your smartphone. The big change is that these lenses (and the images in them) move and change as you move, making them slightly interactive.
The feature means Snapchat users can interact with their surroundings similar to how they would on Pokemon Go, but this time with a little less Pokemon and much more Snapchat. One lens, for example, allows you to plant seeds on the ground, which then turn into flowers. Another lets you add an “OMG” sticker.
You can see other examples in their short 30-second promo video:
With this update, Snapchat is proving its strength in augmented reality (AR) and other camera-based technology. Facebook, the social networking giant and owner of Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, has been on an aggressive quest to slaughter Snapchat’s growth. It mimicked Snapchat’s signature Stories feature, starting with Instagram Stories in August 2016.
But Snapchat is much more than Stories. The app launched lenses, animated filters for your face, in 2015. It soon bought Looksery, a startup to help with that AR technology, and also introduced sponsored lenses. Snapchat gained fandom among millennials for its iconic rainbow vomiting lens and puppy face lens.
The next battle is over rear-facing AR, like what captured the world’s attention with Pokemon Go last summer. As seen in the videos below, Snapchat user can augment their surroundings with these 3D effects and watch them change as they move.
Here’s how it works in three steps:
1. Open the Snapchat app and take your surroundings to open the lens options. Select one of the new world lenses. Drag and drop, left and right
2. Drag and drop, close and away
3. Step through
Snapchat isn’t just about selfies anymore. It’s transforming itself to provide an outlet for millennials (and anyone) to share and view the world, and their world as they see it, via an app on their smartphone as well as with its video-camera tool called Spectacles.
These new lenses will change every day. We can only hope one day Snapchat will let us augment our surroundings with 3D puppies. Your move, Facebook.