Snap Inc. is one of the most innovative social media companies on the planet right now. Its flagship product, Snapchat, continues to gain features that stay ahead of the curve. The company is today announcing a new lens for Snapchat that will make time traveling as simple as sliding on your smartphone screen. Called Time Machine the lens allows Snapchat users to change the appearance of their age by dragging a slider across the screen. Snapchatters can now go from being young to old in a few seconds by sliding on the lens screen.
Snapchat was once seen as the strongest rival to Facebook in the social media world. However, its charm got withered away after Instagram, Facebook’s photo-sharing platform, copied some of its key features. Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat, has tried to transform itself into an AR and camera company. The Time Machine lens being rolled out to Snapchat users today shows its prowess as an augmented reality platform. Ahead of its release today, Snapchat offered early access to the lens. Honestly, I am amazed at the accuracy possible with this new lens.
With Time Machine, of course, you can dial back in time and look at your younger self. You can also age and look at your older self. The older version reminds of the Face App, which recently went viral. Snapchat’s filter, however, does not come with any of that hype. It is just a lens meant to show you time travel in terms of age and post it as an ephemeral status on Snapchat. Yes, it will disappear after 24 hours and only your friends will be able to see it. I am an Android user and Snapchat never worked well with Google’s mobile OS when it became popular.
Photo: Rehan Hooda
However, the redesigned app works well and these lenses make me think about using Snapchat more than Instagram Stories. After lenses like Dog, Butterfly Mood, Glitch, Baby, Puking Rainbow, Snapchat is back with another great lens. With Time Machine, it is setting the bar really high for imagination on social media platforms. Snapchat introduced Lenses as a way to express yourself in 2015. It says more than 70 percent of daily active users play or view Lenses every day. With Time Machine, this engagement rate could see the spike Snapchat needs to stay competitive.
I have been using Time Machine lens on Huawei P30 Pro, which has additional lenses for depth sensing on the back. However, on the front, it has a single camera and Snapchat manages to understand depth very well. In comparison, the depth sensing with filters on Instagram Stories is not that accurate. My 5-year-old niece moves a lot and with Snapchat, I observed the app kept the lenses on her with better accuracy. This technology prowess remains the biggest selling point of Snap and its lethal weapon against Facebook and its family of apps.
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During the third quarter, Snapchat announced that it added 7 million daily active users to reach 210 million. The number pales in comparison to Facebook, which has over 2 billion active users. It does not stand even against apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, which have over 1.5 billion users. With renewed focus on Android as a platform, Snapchat finally stands to gain new users in markets like India. Its lenses have the potential to keep users engaged but the real question is: how long before Instagram copies its marquee feature.