How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality

November 15, 2021

How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality

Snapchat is an instant messaging app that was launched in 2011. The app initially focused on offering person-to-person instant messaging services. In fact, it was widely known for its disappearing message feature, which allowed users to send messages that would automatically disappear after they were viewed by the recipient. 

But since its initial launch, Snapchat has become much more than just an instant messaging app. It now gives its nearly 300 million users access to many other features, including branded content, stories, and video messaging.

Snapchat has grown exponentially over the last decade, and experts believe that it will continue to experience growth in the future. This is partly due to the company’s investment in innovative technologies such as augmented reality. How does Snapchat use augmented reality technology? Here’s what you need to know:

Snapchat & Augmented Reality

Snapchat has used augmented reality technology to introduce a number of new and exciting products and in-app features, including:

  • Snapchat Spectacles
  • Lenses
  • Lens Studio
  • Snap Camera
How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality

Snapchat Spectacles

The first pair of Spectacles, which are Snapchat’s line of smart glasses, was introduced in 2016. The first version of Snapchat’s smart glasses were not powered by augmented reality. Instead, these glasses were designed to record videos that would automatically be uploaded to the wearer’s Snapchat account. However, the company revealed that they planned on incorporating augmented reality technology into future versions of the product. 

Since 2016, Snapchat has released several other versions of Spectacles. In 2021, the company finally revealed the first pair of Spectacles powered by augmented reality technology.

Unfortunately, Snapchat’s augmented reality glasses are not available to consumers. Instead, the company has offered them to a select group of popular Snapchat content creators.

These glasses allow the wearer to overlay Snapchat’s popular lenses directly onto their real world environment. For example, someone who is wearing the glasses on the beach could project dolphins jumping out of the water onto their real world environment. No one would be able to see the digital projections besides the person wearing the glasses. This creates an immersive, unforgettable experience for the wearer. 

Experts believe that Snapchat will eventually release a pair of augmented reality glasses that will be available to consumers. However, the company still has a long way to go to perfect their design.

For instance, the battery life on the newest version of Spectacles only lasts for about 30 minutes. Issues like these must be addressed before the product is sold to consumers. 

How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality

Lenses

Snapchat’s “Lens” feature was introduced in 2015. This feature, which is powered by augmented reality technology, allows users to change the way they and the world around them look. You can use this feature to add three-dimensional effects, characters, objects, and other digital elements onto the messages you send or stories you post within the app.

For example, if you want to send a silly selfie, use this feature to add a pair of dog ears to the top of your head. You can also change the world around you by projecting digital objects, images, and characters onto your real world environment. 

This is one of the most popular features on Snapchat. It’s not just popular among consumers, either. Advertisers love it, too. Many brands are using custom Snapchat Lenses to enhance the shopping experience for consumers.

For instance, TULA, a skincare brand, used Snapchat’s Lenses to promote a new eye cream. The company created a custom Lens that showed users what they would look like if they used the eye cream as directed.

Other brands, including Puma and Dior, have created custom Lenses that allow consumers to virtually try on products through the app. Consumers can see exactly what they would look like wearing a clothing item or accessory before deciding whether they should purchase it. This makes it easier for consumers to shop with confidence online. 

Lens Studio

Lens Studio is a Snapchat application that allows anyone to build custom lenses for the Snapchat app. This application is designed for people of all skill levels, which means you don’t need to have tech experience to build your own lens. 

You can either design a lens from scratch within Lens Studio or import a custom lens you created in your favorite 2D or 3D software. If you choose the former option, you can build your own lens from the ground up or start with a template from Snapchat’s extensive library.

Once you’re satisfied with your lens, publish it so the entire Snapchat community can use it.

Snap Camera

Snap Camera is another Snapchat feature supported by augmented reality technology. Similar to Lenses, Snap Camera allows you to overlay digital elements onto yourself or your real world environment using the power of augmented reality technology. However, Snap Camera is designed solely for video chats rather than video or images sent via instant message.

For example, say you need to attend a video conference with your co-workers. You can use Snap Camera to accessorize your outfit, put on a funny disguise, or change your background so your co-workers can’t see your messy bedroom.

Unlike Snapchat, Snap Camera is not available on mobile devices. You must download Snap Camera on a desktop computer and connect it to your group chat or live stream to use it.

Who Are Snapchat’s Competitors in the Augmented Reality Market?

Snapchat isn’t the only tech company that is investing heavily in augmented reality technology. Many other companies have decided to go all in on developing augmented reality products. Some of Snapchat’s main competitors in the augmented reality market include:

  • Facebook
  • Apple
  • Google
How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality

Facebook

Facebook has quickly become a major player in the augmented reality market. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that the company is in the process of developing an augmented reality device, most likely smart glasses. There’s no telling when these glasses will be available, but they will compete directly with Snapchat’s Spectacles once they are released. For now, Facebook is working on releasing a pair of glasses without augmented reality capabilities. 

Facebook also has several in-app augmented reality features for consumers and brands. Brands that choose to advertise on Facebook can enhance their ads with augmented reality technology. Many brands, including Michael Kors, Samsung, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz, have already taken advantage of this feature.

Facebook also launched Spark AR Studio, which is similar to Snapchat’s Lens Studio. Spark AR Studio allows users to create and share their own custom augmented reality experiences. Just like Lens Studio, Spark AR Studio is designed for users of all skill levels, which means anyone can build an augmented reality experience regardless of their tech-savviness. Once you are satisfied with your creation, you can publish it and share it with billions of other Facebook users. 

These are just several ways in which Facebook is using augmented reality technology to provide a better experience for consumers and advertisers. 

Apple

Apple is another tech company that has invested heavily in augmented reality technology. Like Facebook and Snapchat, Apple is also hard at work developing an augmented reality wearable for consumers

Apple has not released a lot of information about their plans to the public. But based on patent filings, experts believe that the company is in the process of developing an augmented reality and virtual reality headset. This headset will be similar in size and weight to the Oculus Quest, which is a virtual reality headset manufactured by Facebook. However, the Apple device is rumored to have both virtual and augmented reality capabilities

There’s also Apple’s ARKit, which makes it easier for developers to build augmented reality apps for consumers. Just like Lens Studio and Spark AR Studio, Apple’s ARKit is made for developers of all skill levels. You can use this toolkit to build an augmented reality app even if you have no prior experience. 

Thanks to this toolkit, there are countless augmented reality apps available for download in the Apple App Store.

How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality

Google

Google has launched a number of augmented reality products over the last several years. One of these products is ARCore, which is similar to Apple’s ARKit. ARCore allows developers to build custom augmented reality apps and experiences that can be sold in the Google Play store.

Google has also used augmented reality technology to enhance its famous Maps product. To use this feature, all you need to do is tap on “Live View” in Google Maps. Then, the app will use augmented reality technology to project digital arrows, road signs, and other objects onto your real world environment. This makes it easier for you to figure out where you need to go to get to your final destination.

You can even use augmented reality when performing a Google search. Now, Google allows you to superimpose objects you see in the search results onto your real world environment. This gives you a chance to learn more about the objects you are searching for by looking at them up close.

These are just some examples of the competition that Snapchat faces in the increasingly crowded augmented reality market. As the competition in this market continues to heat up, Snapchat and other tech companies will need to continue to find new and exciting ways to use augmented reality in order to stay ahead.