The big news in social media over the weekend was the announcement that Snapchat: 1) has changed its official company name to Snap Inc., and 2) the introduction of their new hardware product called Spectacles. Of course, the name change isn’t all that exciting, but it does indicate that the company is looking toward expansion and that they are positioning themselves to become more than just a one trick pony. The Spectacles news; however, is pretty darn exciting, so here’s what we know so far…
A Whole New Way to View the World
Spectacles are funky looking new sunglasses that could potentially revolutionize the way you interact with your Snapchat stories. The glasses allow you to record the usual 10-seconds of video at a time, but without the hassles of having to hold or even have your phone with you. This is an exciting development because it will allow hands-free recording and will free up your phone’s battery life for important things, like catching Pokemon! Snap says that you can record up to 30 seconds at a time, which seems odd since their whole platform works with 10 second videos, so this may indicate that Snapchat is going to be introducing longer format stories. I have mixed feelings about this possibility, so we will just wait and see how that gets incorporated.
Less Geeky, More Funky
While Google Glass seemed promising at the time, privacy issues, being banned in public places, and the fact that they just looked stupid made them fizzle out quickly. What I think sets Spectacles apart is that they actually look like sunglasses, so right away, more people would be comfortable wearing them in public. They’re big, brightly colored (teal, coral, and black for now), and look futuristic, but in a funky fun way, not a nerdy loser way. Millennials love wearing chunky grandpa frames these days, so I think they are much more on trend and fashionable than the geeky Google Glass look. Of course, this is just my opinion. I’ve heard other people say they hate how they look, so we will just have to see where it goes once they are released to the public. All I know is, the first moment I saw them, I wanted them!
Big Brother and Millennials are Watching You!
We can only go by what Snapchat (I mean Snap) tells us since they are not available for purchase yet (soon, very soon, is the official launch date). The glasses have a button on the left-hand corner, and you just need to tap this button to begin recording. You do not have to hold the button, and it automatically stops after 10 seconds. That is already an improvement over the phone app since you have to hold the button down while recording (which is annoying). There is a rear-facing light that you will be able to see to know that you are recording, and a forward-facing circle of lights that will let people know you are recording them. That second part is important because it is what probably doomed Google Glass since everyone was afraid that you were surreptitiously recording them. (News flash, people are secretly recording you all the time, so deal with it!) Spectacles will also have a 115-degree field of view, which is meant to mimic a more natural human perspective. This makes sense since whatever you are recording will presumably be exactly what you are looking at through the glasses, so having a more GoPro-like experience is huge.
How Your Spectacles and Stories Connect
Spectacles will connect to your Snapchat through Bluetooth to iOS devices and through Wi-Fi for Android devices. You do not have to have your phone with you to record (not sure when that would ever happen), and Snap is claiming that the Spectacles battery will last for an entire day of recording. Obviously, this will depend on how much recording you do, but the glasses will come with a case that doubles as a charging station and mobile charger that will recharge your Spectacles on-the-go up to four times on a full charge. As with most new technology, these are probably over-inflated promises, but if it saves me from having to use up my phone’s battery, then it is definitely worth it.
No More Twisty Wrists
What really makes Spectacles innovative is how followers will be able to view your videos. Anyone who currently uses Snapchat knows how annoying it is when people switch between portrait and landscape videos in their story feed. It sounds dumb, but it is actually a pain to have to rotate your phone back and forth when people do this. As for me, I usually just tap through snaps that suddenly switch from portrait to landscape (ain’t nobody got time for that). What makes Spectacles so interesting is that viewers will be able to watch right-side-up videos, no matter which way they are holding their devices. This means no more moving your phone back and forth from portrait to landscape unless you want to see a wider shot. Very wrist friendly!
I Want Them Now! How Can I Get Them?
The official word from Snap Inc. is that they will be out “soon” and in limited quantities. Presumably, they will be out in time for the holiday shopping season and probably only sold online. They will cost approximately $130, which is a reasonable price-point for a single-function gadget, compared to other smart glasses that do more but cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The proof will certainly be in the Millennial pudding. If the kids think it is cool, it works as advertised, and doesn’t set your head on fire; then this will be the beginning of a whole new world of hands-free video gadgets that people of all ages will embrace. Now, if they just came with prescription lenses for us old folks!
What are your twisted thoughts on Snap Spectacles? On fleek or just a fad? Leave a comment or follow me on Snapchat and let’s snap about it!