I know what you’re thinking: Every time Snapchat releases a new feature or filter, the Internet heralds it as the “biggest Snapchat update ever!” And then we all get ready to see what our faces look like if we were giant teddy bears. Snapchat’s most recent announcements truly might be the biggest switch-ups yet, according to reports. Here’s what you should know:
1. For one thing, the company is no longer called Snapchat, but Snap Inc. Dropping the “chat” is no doubt meant to highlight the company’s growth beyond just chat services—and let’s be real, that’s kind of what we call it already.
2. Along with the branding shake up, Snap Inc. is also releasing their first wearable device, called Spectacles. The camera-outfitted sunglasses, which look like sunglasses you might actually wear, come in black, teal, and coral. They’ll run you a surprisingly affordable $ 129.99—cheaper than many (lower-tech) designer shades. The sunglasses’ camera includes a 115-degree-angle lens that will allow the wearer to record circular videos that feel more like the human field of view. Recordings last up to 30 seconds and can post directly to your Snap app. (Yup, get used to saying that.)
3. Snap Specs are also solving a few of Google Glasses’ pain points. Let’s be real: No one was particularly keen on strangers filming them without their knowledge—or consent. Snap Inc.’s Specs try to solve this by having LED lights illuminate on the outside of the frames when they’re recording.
4. The company is going slowly with the rollout and subsequent changes. We must admit, just from a style perspective, these are a major improvement over Google’s now-defunct Google Glass. It’s clear that CEO Evan Spiegel is taking measured steps to make sure Spectacles doesn’t go in the same direction as its predecessor: “It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it,” Spiegel said.
Something Spectacles has going for it is that it serves an app that people (primarily young people) already use frequently. If its main function is as simple as recording video in a cool, hands-free way, we would not be surprised to see some major hype around this product. But that doesn’t mean that it will—as Spiegel said—fit into people’s lives and make a lasting impact.
Here’s a closer look at the techy Specs:
The new brand and technology achieves two major things for Snap Inc.: First it establishes Snap as a more powerful player against its main competition Facebook, who invested $ 2 billion into virtual reality in 2014. It also removes “the wall in front of your face.” Removing your cell phone from the equation allows you to share experiences that feel like they’re truly coming from your perspective: Spiegel told WSJ, that after using Spectacles on a vacation with fiancé Miranda Kerr, he re-watched the footage and “It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.” Now that’s pretty awesome.