Snap unveils Pixy drone and new augmented reality shopping features
Social media giant Snap is selling a new product that could change the way you see the world, but no, it’s not the company’s long-awaited augmented reality glasses.
On Thursday, the Santa Monica-based company launched a flying camera called Pixy, a pocket drone that could take your next selfie from an aerial view. The Snapchat-connected drone was probably the biggest surprise at Snap’s Partner Summit, an annual event where the company shares updates on its products, features, and partnerships.
But Pixy wasn’t the only major announcement. From augmented reality (AR) at concerts to a new way to shop online, here are some highlights from the Snap Summit:
Virtual locker rooms
Snap is launching a Dress Up tab on the Snapchat app where users can virtually try on clothes using augmented reality. The company has already rolled out shopping in AR, but Dress Up will create a dedicated destination, just a tap away from the app’s camera, where users can browse items, share looks, and tag outfits and accessories. .
To date, AR shopping has allowed Snapchatters to preview 3D models of sneakers on their feet or sunglasses on their faces using their smartphone camera. On Thursday, Snap announced that users can now virtually try on clothes using full-body photos, with Snap products superimposed over the images.
Snap touted AR as an innovative way for brands to advertise, drive sales, and reduce item returns. Most shopping experiences on Snapchat link to an external website for customers to purchase products, a spokesperson said.
The company now offers new software tools to make it easier for retailers to create AR versions of their items, using existing product images. Snap also announced that companies can integrate its AR trial experience into their own platforms; Puma will be the first company to use the technology to allow shoppers to digitally try on sneakers directly on its own app.
Snap’s AR technology allows users to try on sneakers using their smartphones.
Courtesy of Snap
AR at music festivals
Snap has recently taken steps to bring AR experiences to physical locations such as local landmarks and small businesses. Now Snap is bringing augmented reality to music festivals through a multi-year partnership with Beverly Hills-based Live Nation.
Starting with the Electric Daisy carnival next month in Las Vegas, spectators can use AR to try on merchandise, find friends and discover AR experiences around the festival site. Other festivals that will deploy Snap’s AR include Lollapalooza in Chicago, Wireless Festival in London, Rolling Loud in Miami and The Governors Ball in New York, the company said.
Snap’s new camera drone
As mentioned, Snap will now sell a handheld flying camera called Pixy. CEO Evan Spiegel touted the device as a creative new tool for users to capture photos and video from new aerial angles.
The mini drone comes with four predefined flight paths that users can select with the press of a button, no controller needed. Pixy “knows when and where to come back” and gently lands in the palm of your hand, Spiegel said. From there, users can wirelessly upload aerial shots to their Snapchat accounts.
The Pixy device costs $230 to purchase. Snap advised customers to check their local drone laws and regulations before letting Pixy take flight.
Snap’s AR glasses, meanwhile, aren’t on sale yet. The latest Spectacles are currently being tested by “hundreds” of developers who received early access, according to Sophia Dominguez, Snap’s head of AR platform partnerships.
Director mode for creators
Speaking of creative tools, Snapchat is rolling out a new suite of camera and editing features, called Director Mode, allowing users to create more polished content.
A feature will allow creators to use a smartphone’s front and rear cameras simultaneously, allowing them to record what’s in front of them while capturing their reaction simultaneously.
Snap also makes it easy to seamlessly transform video backgrounds with its Green Screen mode, similar to an existing feature on TikTok, while its Quick Edit mode allows users to easily edit multiple Snaps. Director Mode will roll out to Apple devices in the coming months, followed by Android devices later this year.
Snap allowed creators to associate AR experiences with physical locations.
Courtesy of Snap
Large numbers of users
Along with new products and features, Snap executives touted the size and engagement of the company’s user base.
Snapchat now reaches more than 600 million monthly active users, they said on Thursday, up from 500 million last May. Last week, the company announced that it had 332 million daily active users.
As TechCrunch recently noted, Snapchat has grown faster than rivals Facebook and Twitter, though TikTok remains the dominant social media app at the moment, with the most downloads in the first quarter of this year and more one billion monthly active users over the past year.
Snapchat users have embraced its AR offerings, with people interacting with the app’s AR lenses 6 billion times a day on average, Spiegel noted.
“What was once a distant vision of computing superimposed on the world through augmented reality is now possible through our camera,” he said.
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