Snapchat is adding a new way to use its app that brings its popular filters beyond faces. The new âWorld Lensesâ add augmented reality elements to any scene you can capture with your camera, placing 3D objects you can actually walk around with your smartphoneâs camera, which is actually a lot closer to what we used to mean when we said âaugmented realityâ in its earlier days.
Snap notably doesnât use âaugmented realityâ or âARâ once in its blog post announcing the news, preferring instead to talk about how users can âpaint the worldâ with â3D experiences.â The intro video, however, will reveal something pretty familiar to anyone who bought into the early hype of the Nintendo 3DS, which came with AR cards that let you place and virtually interact with 3D graphics that looked like they were anchored to, and blended with, the real world.
Based on the demo videos Snap provided, this is a much more impressive incarnation of AR, however, that requires neither QR codes nor other kludgy markers to anchor and generate the graphics you see applied to whateverâs captured via your camera lens in real time. The gifs below should provide some sense that whatâs happening here goes beyond the timid stumblings of the very first smartphone and portable console AR products.
The should be fairly easy to use â Snap says you just tap the screen while using the rear-facing camera to cycle through available World Lenses, and it adds that these will be updated on a daily basis, too.
This genuinely sounds like a fun, worthwhile addition to Snapchat that builds on the popularity of its previous Lenses launches. But we knew they were coming, and weâve actually known for a while now: Itâs highly likely that Snapâs competitors are aware, too, and itâs probably only a matter of time before they clone this feature the way they have previous tech, too. Still, thereâs plenty of opportunity for additional revenue from this new addition to the Snapchat product arsenal, though at launch, there wonât be any sponsored third-party World Lenses.