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Snapchat is a hugely popular social networking app available for iOS and Android that lets users share photos and videos that automatically expire after a set amount of time.
While Snap came from small beginnings, the company is estimated to be worth $29 billion and is looking to enter the camera market with its inaugural product, Snapchat Spectacles.
The design of the Spectacles will divide opinion; while some will love the quirky and out-there design of the sunglasses, others will think it’s a bit too in-your-face and would prefer something a little more understated. It’s available in three colours: Black, Teal (Blue) and Coral (Red), with the Black variant being the most understated in terms of design.
It features a black frame, black lenses and yellow rings around the camera and light modules on either side of the glasses. There’s also a light detailing present on the arms of the sunglasses.
However, the teal and coral Spectacles are a little more in-your-face. They both feature brightly coloured reflective lenses and colourful detailing on the arms of the glasses. While the Snapchat Spectacle models on the site look cool, we’ve a feeling that not everyone will be able to pull them off.
In terms of the featured technology, the Spectacles feature a camera on the right-hand side of the glasses
and a light and a button to start and end recording on the left-hand side. The light is outward facing and displays a circle of light when the Spectacles are recording – it makes it easy for those around you to know when you’re recording, and helps to alleviate some of the privacy concerns raised when mounting a camera onto a pair of sunglasses.
There’s also a light on the inside of the glasses to give you a heads up when a video is being recorded and when it’s about to finish (it’ll flash when there are two seconds left).
Along with the Spectacles, Snapchat provides a soft-to-the-touch triangular glasses case that doubles up as a wireless charger for the glasses. In fact, the case can provide four full Spectacle charges before requiring a top-up itself.
Snapchat’s camera-enabled glasses aren’t perfect, though. There are blind spots on the left- and righthand side of the glasses due to the camera and light housings. It’s not enough to be put off from using them completely, but it’s noticeable when wearing the glasses. The glasses aren’t waterproof or even water-resistant, meaning you can’t wear them in the rain or in a swimming pool.
Oh, and they’re not polarised either, meaning that unlike standard sunglasses, they won’t reduce glare from reflective surfaces like water and glass.
Using Snapchat Spectacles
The Spectacles feature a wide-angle 115-degree lens that is said to mimic how humans see and while that is generally the case, you still should be conscious that
the camera is mounted on the right of the glasses and that it might miss out on things happening to the far left of you. Apart from that, the hardware is incredibly simple to use – it’s when it comes to the software side of things that it starts to get complicated.
To record a video using Snapchat Spectacles, simply press the button in the top-left of the sunglasses. A light will appear on both the outside and inside of the glasses to let everyone know that the glasses are recording, and the light will flash when you’ve got two seconds of video left.
From here, you can press the button again to extend it by 10 seconds (this can be done up to 30 seconds) or, if you want to stop recording before the 10 seconds is up, simply press and hold the button for a second or so. The sunglasses can store 10 snaps locally but if you want to record more, you’ll need to sync with your smartphone.
The battery lasts for around 100 snaps, or around a day of general usage, and is charged wirelessly using the supplied glasses case. To check the current battery level of the glasses, users need only gently tap the left side of the glasses. So far, so simple, right?
Android and iOS support
Snapchat Spectacles are compatible with both iOS and Android, although Android seems to be the better choice for Spectacle users. Why? While Android users connect to the Spectacles exclusively via Wi-Fi, it’s not the case for iOS devices. Granted, it doesn’t seem like
a huge deal initially, but it means that while Android users will import HD snaps by default, the same can’t be said for iOS users.
Instead, iOS users must first connect to Spectacles via Bluetooth and import a SD version of the snaps. Once imported, you can re-import selected snaps in HD by leaving the app, connecting to Spectacles via Wi-Fi in the settings menu then heading back into the app to sync the snaps. It’s an extra step that gets quite annoying, especially on days where many snaps are recorded.
Viewing and sharing snaps
To view the snaps recorded via Spectacles, you’ll (somewhat obviously) need to use the Snapchat app for iOS and Android. To view your recently imported story, you simply swipe up to access Snapchat Memories and
select the new ‘Specs’ tab to view your stories on a day-by-day basis.
Of course, not every video you record via Spectacles will be worthy of being added to your story. That’s why Snapchat automatically analyses each video and automatically selects those that it thinks is interesting. It makes it easier to search through tens of videos for the ones you want to share, although it’s not always 100 percent accurate. When it does make a mistake, it’s easy enough to remove/add snaps.
To view the videos recorded via Snapchat Spectacles, simply select the day you’d like to view and it’ll open full-screen. This is where one of Spectacles most underrated features comes into play: the glasses record in a circular format but display it in a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. This means that users can rotate their phones when watching Spectacles-recorded snaps and get a different angle of what is happening.
It doesn’t add much to the viewing experience beyond being a cool little feature you can show your friends, but it’s a cool feature nonetheless.
When it comes to sharing the Spectacles story, it’s a relatively straightforward process. In fact, it’s almost the exact same process as posting a regular snap; simply tap the blue send icon on any video you’d like to share and you’re then presented with options to share it to your Snapchat Story or with specific friends.
Of course, you are free to export your Spectacle videos for use in other apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but they won’t perform in the same way
as in Snapchat. Why? It’ll be exported in a circular format rather than the standard 16:9 view, and won’t support the intelligent rotation mentioned above.
While we were initially dubious about Snapchat Spectacles and its value in a world full of action cameras and smartphones, but Spectacles do make recording videos much simpler and much more fun to watch too. The design isn’t for everyone but if you’re a Snapchatter or someone going on holiday that has a spare £130, it’s a fun piece of tech that will help you document your life and experiences.