Snap’s New Camera Desktop App Aims to Add Magic in New Places



Snap’s flagship feature, its whimsical AR-powered lenses, is coming to your desktop—and they want to change the way you look at your camera.

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Snap is attempting to rebound from its recent troubles by once again reinventing its image. In the past several months, it’s aimed to be known as a social media platform, to plant the seeds for an entertainment company, and–as of this week–now testing the waters of being a digital camera company.

This week’s introduction of Snap Camera is yet another move to lure non-Snapchat users toward their products, by allowing them to use the app’s popular lenses (or filters) on third-party live streaming or video chat apps. Easily integrated with platforms and products like YouTube, Skype, Zoom, and Twitch, Snap Camera moves the familiar “bunny ears,” “flower crowns,” and other popular AR-enabled looks to new spaces. Users will be able to mark favorite lenses for repeated use. And although it may feel unlikely for the non-Snapping population to take advantage of this new app, the company’s latest foray into use by the general population shows promise for those who miss the AR-powered accessories from the now-defunct Google Hangouts On Air.

Snap Camera’s unveiling at TwitchCon feels apropos, given the utility it’ll have for those streaming their gaming experiences and the custom integration it’ll have to the platform. Some of the featured lenses are related to frequently streamed games, like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends.

Because Snap Camera doesn’t require a Snapchat account for use, the Mac and Windows-enabled app is a means for Snap to expand its reach beyond its current user base. It has an added benefit beyond sharing its most attractive feature with non-users: it elevates the work of creators developing lenses. “Bringing Snapchat AP experiences to the desktop,” head of Snap’s camera platform Eitan Pilipski says, is a way to “find new distribution channels for [lens] creators to surface their work.”

The Lens Studio will prominently feature lenses created by Snap’s community and will be available as options for users seeking the perfect augmentation for their next conference call or newly created video.

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