If you’re active on social media (or in the digital marketing sphere), then you’re already familiar with Snap Inc.’s new wearable tech.
Despite keeping a pulse on the latest buzz, watching the unboxing videos, and keeping a close eye on all things Spectacles, we still found ourselves caught off guard by some aspects of the latest social gadget.
Here’s what you may not have read about Snap Inc.’s latest venture.
Setting up your Spectacles is refreshingly simple: Put on your Spectacles, pull up your Snapcode, and push the single button on your Specs while looking at the code. Specs handles the rest, automatically connecting to the device and letting you name your Specs (your name must start with the 😎 emoji, of course). It’s a cool use of Snapcodes.
Style and Design
It can be tricky for wearable tech manufacturers to marry function with style, but Snap Inc. has executed Spectacles nicely—especially for the company’s first piece of consumer hardware. Spectacles don’t look all that different from an ordinary pair of sunglasses (no geeky Google Glass or clunky GoPro straps here) and they come in black, teal, and a salmon-esque orange. Each features a set of yellow rings in the front frame, one of which lights up to indicate when Spectacles are recording, and one that contains the camera. The glasses feel a bit heavier than a normal pair of glasses, but it’s a slick design.
Keeping your Spectacles charged and ready is also surprisingly elegant. Specs are held in a yellow sunglass-sized case that can hold up to four full charges, like a stylish portable battery. You can also use the included cord to charge the Spectacles individually, but the case will keep your glasses scratch-free and juiced up.
Capturing Your Life
Spectacles’ circular first-person perspective makes capturing moments feel like a unique experience. Pushing the button starts recording a 10-second video, which can be extended to 30 seconds with another two taps. Best part? Being able to go almost completely hands-free while recording. And while most cameras take rectangular or square photos, Specs use a lens that records circular video. We’ll let the gifs explain.
This circular format lets viewers rotate their device screen horizontally, vertically, or anywhere between, lending a one-of-a-kind experience that feels more intimately connected to the user’s perspective.
Sifting Through Snaps
Snap Inc’s promo videos don’t include much of the process of importing videos—and for good reason. It isn’t the most elegant user flow. Your videos are available within your “Memories,” the section of Snapchat where your saved content lives, in addition to your phone’s camera roll. Footage from Specs is presented as circles, separated by day as “Stories.” A small circle on the top left of each contains “Highlights,” which are a combination of what Snapchat believes are your best clips of the day (plus anything you have manually designated with a star). But the lack of distinction between what you’ve highlighted and what Snapchat has highlighted can make it hard to curate and organize. And it takes a series of long presses and menus to find your way to the thumbnails of individual snaps. This can make it frustrating to locate things, even for the most seasoned Snapchat users; and worse, it makes Specs feel a little “beta.”
Android in the Dust
OK, this one might not come as a complete surprise: Snapchat has clearly optimized the entire Specs experience for iOS over its Android counterparts. The product’s packaging has a large “Made for iPhone” sticker, but the Android logo is relegated to FCC and Bluetooth stamps. Snapchat’s Android optimization has always lagged behind iOS in stability, and those differences are highlighted when attempting to use Specs. Here’s hoping things will improve as products like Google’s Pixel phones hit the mainstream.
It makes sense that Snap Inc. changed its name on the day they unveiled Spectacles. It feels like a new phase for the company—one perhaps not fully realized, but heading in the right direction. Snapchat has always been about chasing authenticity. And Spectacles fits right in with that mission. It’s the closest most of us will get to showing how we really live our lives on social… at least until everyone’s parents get involved.
—and at least until Instagram debuts its inevitable ripoff.