By Dave Avran
THER’S some exciting news from Snapchat to end the year with.
Snap’s second official app is a tool that lets you design and build augmented reality lenses for Snapchat. Introducing Lens Studio, a design app for both Mac and Windows desktop computers. The app resembles the internal tools Snap uses to build lenses in Snapchat. A flood of new AR objects inside Snapchat will certainly be a creative boon for the 70 million users a day who interact with lenses.
The move marks the first time that average users and advertisers will be able to create AR lenses for Snapchat. Lens Studio will offer templates and guides for getting started, for both two- and three-dimensional designs. A scripting API allows users to build additional effects into their designs, tapping an object to change its shape, for example, or altering it as the user walks closer to it.
It’s definitely a bid to make Snapchat the default place for flashy, viral AR experiences at a time when deeper-pocketed rivals are circling. Facebook opened up its AR platform to developers recently, after introducing it earlier this year. Both Google and Apple have introduced AR platforms as well.
But while the big boys might have more resources, Snap got off to an early start. The company says its team has built more than 3,000 lenses to date and that one-third of users play with them daily, for an average of three minutes apiece. Snap has had success putting its fans to work: users created 95 per cent of the geofilters in the app, making custom designs for cities and neighbourhoods around the world.
For now, normal users will be limited to creating what Snap calls world lenses — effects captured using the rear-facing Snapchat camera. Separately, the company partnered with seven ad agencies and will let them build face filters, which advertisers will then be able to place inside Snapchat for a price.
Eventually regular users will be able to make face filters as well, Snap says. In the short term, letting ad agencies build lenses for their clients should bring new advertisers onto the platform. Earlier, only Snap’s internal creative agency had been able to create the lenses, limiting supply and keeping prices high.
Once users have created an effect, Lens Studio will generate a unique Snapcode and deep link which, when tapped on the phone, will open it within Snapchat for 24 hours. The Snapcode is valid for a year after it’s created, so users can unlock it multiple times. There is no formal approval process to get lenses into Snapchat, though they must adhere to company guidelines.
User-created lenses can also be shared from the camera screen, where you tap on an “i” button (for information) and then choose which friends you’d like to send it to. The creator’s name will be attached to the lens, and Lens Studio will offer creators metrics about how often their lens has been used.
Lens Studio is available globally, but only in English for the moment. Next year, Snap will launch a series of “Lens Studio challenges” designed to attract more developers.
With that exciting news, I would like to wish readers of The Mole a blessed Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very joyous 2018.