- It's been three years since the first version
of Snapchat Spectacles,
and that first edition had a lot of buzz
but it didn't sell too many units.
Last year, a second version kind of came and went.
Now Snap is back with Spectacles 3.
It's a redesigned, more powerful
and much pricier take on wearable computing.
These things cost three hundred and eighty dollars,
up from a hundred and fifty dollars for Spectacles 2.
Snap says they're intended
for a more fashion forward and creative audience,
but what can these things actually do
and who should really buy them?
So let's start with the design.
Compared to Spectacles 2,
which looked a lot like a toy,
Spectacles 3 feels much more serious.
They come in just two colors,
black and a kind of tan that Snap calls mineral.
And they have a new steel frame.
I find that the steel frame isn't super comfortable,
particularly over a long period of time.
There's something that would just kind of
dig into various parts of my head
as I was walking around town with them.
And as far as the design,
it might just be a little too fashion forward,
at least for me.
There's something about this giant steel bar
running across the top of my forehead
that feels a little bit insect like or maybe even alien.
Now let's talk abut the tech in Spectacles 3.
The big marquee feature this year is a second camera,
and what that second camera means
is that Spectacles can sense depth for the first time.
So Spectacles now have a bunch of filters
that kind of integrate the real world with Snap's.
For example, there's one filter that puts hearts everywhere
and as you're walking through the video,
those hearts will kind of bounce off you.
There's another flower filter that projects flowers
onto the ground and the shape kind of changes
with the topography.
When I talked with Snap's CEO, Evan Spiegel,
about Spectacles recently,
he told me he saw them as a breakthrough for the company
because it's the first time that Snap has been able
to integrate computing with the real world.
Unfortunately, though, that integration
is only happening after the fact.
I can't put on my Spectacles and just see Snap filters
over layed on top of the world.
Instead, I have to open my phone,
import Snaps from my glasses to the phone,
and only then can I tap the edit button
and start swiping through the filters.
It's just a couple more steps
than it feels like it should take.
So there are gonna be about 10 of these filters
available at launch that are exclusive to Spectacles 3,
and I'd say that none of them
has that immediate iconic appeal
of past hit Snapchat filters,
like the dancing hot dog or the gender swap.
But Snap is gonna let independent developers
build their own filters that incorporate depth perception,
and it'll be interesting to see what they come up with.
In the meantime, though, it feels mostly like a novelty.
Spectacles 3 can use the second camera in another way,
and it's by taking what Snap calls 3D photos.
So you put on your Spectacles,
you press and hold one of these camera buttons
and it will capture a sort of three-dimensional image
of the world around you.
Once you've done that, you can build this cardboard viewer
that is included with Spectacles 3,
slide a phone in and then kind of click through
all of the 3D photos that you've taken.
It's sort of similar
to one of those old View-Master gadgets,
and it's based on previous things
like Google Cardboard or Gear VR.
It's a somewhat novel way of looking through images,
but I don't know if, at this point,
it's much more than a novelty.
I think Spectacles 3 are a meaningful iteration
of a product that is only going to get better over time.
At the same time, they're definitely a product
that most people shouldn't buy.
So why does Snap keeping making these?
I asked Evan Spiegel that, and he was up front with me.
He said that he thinks that these kind of AR glasses
aren't gonna hit mainstream adoption for 10 years.
He says there are just too many constraints
on the hardware that we have.
But Snap thinks it's important to iterate in public.
Every time it releases another generation of Spectacles,
it's able to learn from its community, get feedback,
and then incorporate that into the next edition.
With Spectacles 3, for the first time Snap is integrating
its computing into the real world.
It's opening up that tool for developers,
and it's going to learn a bunch.
I don't think it's going to sell a lot Spectacles 3,
but I do think that what it learns
is gonna make Spectacles 4 a much more interesting product.
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