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Posts tagged with "Snapchat"

Snapchat Debuts Exclusive iPhone X Lens Filters

At last September’s iPhone event at Apple Park, Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of software engineering, used Snapchat to show how the iPhone X’s True Depth camera and ARKit could create realistic camera filters. Today, those filters finally launched with an update to Snapchat’s iOS app, which is featured in the Today section of the App Store.

Craig Federighi demonstrating Snapchat Lens filters in September 2017

Craig Federighi demonstrating Snapchat Lens filters in September 2017

The update includes the two filters demoed by Federighi during the keynote, as well as a masquerade ball Lens. The advantage of using the True Depth camera and ARKit is that the filters can track your face better than other Snapchat Lenses and account for the lighting in the room, providing realistic highlights and shadows.

The new filters are available now without updating Snapchat’s app. If you long press the screen with the selfie camera enabled, the new lenses are currently the first three listed.


Snap Map Brings Location Sharing and Global Discovery to Snapchat

A new feature is rolling out to all Snapchat users today called Snap Map. From the camera screen inside Snapchat, pinching two fingers together will bring Snap Map into view. The map consists of two main pieces: it shows you friends’ locations (if they have location sharing activated) and it serves as a place to discover Stories from people all around the world.

The location sharing piece includes some very simple controls. You can choose to not share your location at all, which is called ‘Ghost Mode,’ or you can either share it with all your friends or a selected assortment of them. The app makes it easy to share your location only when you want to – in the upper right corner of the screen, there’s a settings menu that includes a toggle to activate or deactivate Ghost Mode. While your friends are sharing their location, their Bitmoji will appear on the map and you can tap them to zoom in on their location and access a convenient chat box.

The Story discovery aspect of Snap Map appeals more to me personally, as it makes viewing other Stories from significant places or events fun and easy. Discovery appears to revolve around the collaborative Stories feature introduced just last month, with shared Stories that center on an event rather than a particular person. Scanning the map, you’ll find Stories for things like baseball games, concerts, visits to national parks, and even significant news like natural disasters. It works well both as a way to see what events your friends may be attending, and as a way to explore different activities from all around the world.

Snapchat Adds Collaboration to Stories

New sharing options are rolling out today for Snapchat that allow friends to collaborate on Stories together. From Snap’s website:

Today we’re announcing a new way to create custom Stories – about anything, with any of your friends, even for a specific location! It’s perfect for a trip, a birthday party, or a new baby story just for the family.

You decide who can add to the Story and who can view it – you can also choose to Geofence the Story to a location.

Stories have always been a personal medium, so expanding into shared Stories is a significant move. While it would potentially cause headaches if a shared Story could be added to by any friends, the custom controls over who can add to it and the location they have to be in should alleviate those concerns.


Snapchat Adds Magic Eraser, Emoji Brush, Limitless Snaps, and More

In an update released today, Snapchat has added a slew of new tools to enhance the creation and sharing of Snaps.

The Magic Eraser is a tool for removing unwanted objects from a picture. You can use it by tapping the scissors icon, then the stars icon. The tool works very much like the Repair Tool found in Pixelmator, the powerful photo editing app. Simply tap and drag on the part of the image you’d like to ‘erase,’ and after a couple seconds of work Snapchat will remove the object. When it works properly, what’s left in the absent object’s place will blend in nicely with the rest of the photo. As with all tools like this, the reliability can vary depending on the particular photo and object.

A second new tool is the Emoji Brush, which lets you draw with emoji on an image like you might draw with a standard colored brush. Tap the brush icon, then the heart emoji, to pull up the emoji picker. Currently only a select few emoji are available to choose from, including the heart, fire, star, flower, and a few others. If you tap and hold on the bottom of the emoji lineup, it will expand to temporarily reveal a variety of colored heart options.

Additional changes in the app include the new Loop tool, which lets you set a Snap to loop until your friend taps forward to the next Snap. This pairs nicely with the new option to remove a time limit from your Snap, so friends can view it as long as they’d like before moving on. Once the Snap is closed though, it will still delete as usual.

Snapchat Introduces New AR Feature: World Lenses

One of the most popular Snapchat features since its launch has been Lenses, the AR tool that enables you to overlay photo subjects with all kinds of fun, sometimes wacky filters – you can make yourself or someone else look like a dog, bunny, or bumblebee, give them disproportionate features, colored hair, and more.

Today Snapchat has launched an expansion of its Lenses feature called World Lenses. Snap shares the news:

While Snapping with the rear-facing camera, simply tap the camera screen to find new Lenses that can paint the world around you with new 3D experiences!

There are a wide variety of Lenses available today, including floating bubbles, speech phrases, a house of mirrors-like effect, and more. Many of the Lenses contain several options within themselves – the speech phrases, for example, can be tapped on to cycle through alternate words and styles.

The current number of World Lenses available in the app seems healthy, but there are apparently many more in the pipeline. The Verge reports that the lineup of Lenses will change daily.

Snap has released a short video that shows World Lenses in action.

Spectator, the Spectacles Video Player

One of the coolest features of Snap’s new Spectacles sunglasses is that they take circular video. That means whichever way you turn your phone to view the captured video, there are no black bars surrounding the footage. Users have been uploading the videos to Twitter and Instagram, but the results aren’t great – the video looks like it’s been taken through the peephole in a door.

Tim Johnsen, the creator of iOS utility Opener, has come to the rescue with a solution. Johnsen’s new iOS app, Spectator, displays the video just like Snapchat does. Here’s a video Johnsen made to demonstrate:

Using Spectator is easy:

You use Spectator by copying links to Spectacles videos on Instagram or Twitter, then launching the app. It’ll prompt you to play the video you have copied shortly after launch, and keeps a list of the videos you’ve recently watched. If you’re looking for a list of videos to try out I’m curating one here. Enjoy!

I’ve tried Spectator and it works like a charm. The app has also made me want to try Spectacles more than ever before, which makes me think that this is an app Snap should have made to help spread the buzz about its new product.

Spectator is available on the App Store as a free download.


Instagram Introduces New Stories Feature

Today, Instagram is rolling out a separate feed of photos and videos called Stories, which expire after twenty-four hours, much like Snapchat’s stories feature. Instagram’s Stories, introduced with a post on the company’s blog, adds a separate row of circular avatars to the top of your Instagram feed. According to The Verge’s Casey Newton, who has an in depth look at the new feature and interview with Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder and CEO:

Each bubble represents an account that you follow on Instagram, and contains every photo and video clip (up to 10 seconds) that they’ve posted to their stories feed within the past day. (The avatars are displayed according to an algorithm that attempts to show your favorite accounts first.) Tap a bubble and their story will open in full screen, advancing automatically with a slick rotating cube effect. Unlike Snapchat, you can tap on the left-hand side of the screen to rewind the feed back to an earlier post.

Unlike the main Instagram feed there are no likes or public comments, but you can tap a photo to send a private message to the user. Privacy settings work the same way as your existing Instagram settings. If you account is private, only your followers will see your Stories. If your account is public, your Stories will be too.

The point of Stories is to get people to use Instagram more often. According to Newton:

Instagram describes its stories product as a way to promote the sharing of moments that don’t meet the higher bar of a traditional Instagram post. But it’s also designed to get people to share more, period. The Information reported in June that the average number of Instagram posts per user declined between 2013 and 2015. Meanwhile, consumption of video alone on Snapchat increased 25 percent between February and April, to 10 billion views a day, according to Bloomberg.

To reinforce the message that Instagram Stories are an informal place to share candid photos with friends, Instagram has added a series of tools to decorate your photos by using a limited set of filters, drawing tools, text and emoji.

Screenshots courtesy of Instagram.

Screenshots courtesy of Instagram.

It will be interesting to see to what extent Instagram users take to Stories. I know friends who view the relatively low volume of their Instagram feed as a feature of its own because it doesn’t need to be checked as frequently to stay current. I also wonder how well informal stories will co-exist with the more curated, artistic feel of the existing Instagram feed. However, in a world where attention and engagement are the main drivers of social networks, it certainly isn’t surprising that Facebook would take Instagram in this direction. The only question is how many users will follow.

You can watch Instagram’s video introducing Stories below.

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Snapchat Does It Different

Louis Harboe makes some good points about Snapchat and how it continues to change and attract users:

You see, there are lots of messaging apps out there. So many that it’s almost like there’s a template now for these sort of things. Because popular messaging apps all implement the same features: texting, video calling, stickers. But Snapchat continues to impress me in the ways it adds small, entertaining, irregularities to conventional communication methods. Snapchat’s implementation of these template features go beyond exception. They are seemingly familiar but undoubtedly unique.

Admittedly, I don’t use Snapchat a lot. But I find it remarkable how, in less than two years, Snapchat went from being a barely known app here in Italy to a full-blown phenomenon that is used by virtually all of my friends and is constantly mentioned on TV (the “Follow us on Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat” type of mention). I wish I had paid more attention.


Apple Music on Snapchat

Adario Strange, reporting for Mashable on Apple’s usage of Snapchat for Apple Music:

In a fairly unprecedented move, Apple has taken its promotional message to a competing software concern: Snapchat.

The company’s brief Snapchat story takes us to Los Angeles, where Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe (sporting an Apple Watch) goes behind the scenes of Beats 1 L.A. After a few scenes of Lowe DJing in the studio, he throws it to his colleague, DJ Julie Adenuga, to continue the music program in London.

I have Snapchat installed because of stories and how publishers are using it (see our previous articles on it), and this is pretty cool indeed. Apple Music has been very active on Twitter, and I hope this Snapchat experiment is successful because I love this kind of “behind the scenes” access.