As you may know, Snap recently held its annual Partner Summit, during which it made the splashy “one-more-thing” announcement that it’s launching AR-enabled Spectacles. As we examined at the time, this is a considerable moment in Snap’s AR lifecycle.
But the news was so big that it overshadowed several other notable AR announcements and updates. These are more evolutionary than revolutionary — and less prone to headlines — but are key updates in Snap’s AR mix. In fact, most of its keynote content tied to AR in some way.
So to cover all of those unsung moments, we poured back over the Partner Summit keynote and are featuring the summary and video for this week’s XR Talks. In fact, there were too many takeaways to fit in one article….so we’ll tackle it in two, continuing below in part II.
After Part I of this series covered several announcements from Snap’s Partner Summit — such as Lens Studio and Snap Scan updates — we now shift focus to the AR-adjacent updates. These are less about Lenses and pure AR, but are a key part of the “camera company” mix.
First, it’s worth noting that augmenting reality runs deep in Snap’s DNA and manifests in several ways. For example, the keynote stage itself was virtually rendered using digital/physical fusion methods similar to ILM’s Stagecraft technology that we recently examined.
Next, several Snap initiatives continue to develop as launchpads and delivery channels for AR. These include Camera Kit, Sticker Kit and Snap Map. The first two are congruent with Snap’s Lens studio approach to put tools into developers’ hands to build compelling experiences.
For example, Camera Kit bundles up several aspects of Snapchat’s platform — including Lens capabilities — so that third parties can build it into their apps. Disney is already using it to have geo-located branded lenses available for interaction throughout its theme parks.
Meanwhile, Sticker Kit does the same thing but with Snap’s Bitmoji content. So mobile games can integrate users’ Bitmoji avatars right into their games for a personalized twist. This sort of an inverse-AR where reality — in this case, you the player — augment digital gameplay.
Moving on to Snap Map, it likewise carries AR-adjacent components in that it fuses the digital and physical worlds in new ways. First, more directly tied to AR, Snap Map will spotlight geo-specific lenses such as Snap’s recent artistic Lens series in partnership with LACMA.
Connecting the dots with other moves, including its Pixel8 acquisition, Snap shows strong interest in developing geolocated AR experiences such as Local Lenses. To that end, we believe Snap Map could evolve into more of a discovery and distribution engine for geo-relevant AR.
Speaking of geo-located AR, one of the conceptual frameworks for the AR Cloud is a series of data “layers” that can be activated on-demand (think: social layer, entertainment layer). The layers concept is now featured in Snap Map, though the content itself isn’t yet AR-specific.
In other words, Snap Maps’ new Layers feature will highlight categories of local activity, such as events and food infatuations. This will help Snap Map users discover local activities. And as noted, this could grow into a launchpad for the distribution and discovery of Local Lenses.
This would be a meaningful launchpad, given 250 million Snap Map users. And it would be consistent with Snap’s penchant for incubating AR in its many products and properties (just like Google). For that and all of the above initiatives, Snap will continue to involve and infuse AR.
We’ll pause there and cue the keynote video for more color. Watch it in full below.