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Snapchat Spectacles: How do they work and should I get some?

Snap Inc. has finally released Snapchat Spectacles here in the UK. So what are Spectacles, how do they actually work and should you buy a pair?

What’s is Snapchat?

First things first, Snapchat used to be both the name of a company and its only app – an ephemeral social messaging platform designed for smartphones. We detail what exactly Snapchat (the app) is and what it can do right here. However, to complicate matters, the company has now rebranded itself as Snap Inc.

Read next: What is Snapchat? A beginner’s guide to ephemeral social media

What is Snap Inc.?

So why the name change? It’s because Snapchat as a company had one function, it distributed, maintained and improved a singular product in the form of the Snapchat app. Snap Inc. calls itself a camera company because Snapchat is now just one of its products, with the second being a new piece of hardware, called Spectacles.

Whilst we’d more readily consider the likes of Canon, Nikon and even GoPro as camera companies Snapchat has built its reputation and its brand on its users sharing their lives through the lenses of their smartphone’s camera. But until this point, they’ve only had so much control over the experience because they’ve only been able to manipulate the software side of the equation.

What are the Snapchat Spectacles?

As the name implies, Spectacles look like a conventional pair of sunglasses with tinted lenses and funky frames that can be picked up in three different colours (coral, teal and black). Like Google Glass, there’s a camera set into the corner of one of the lenses which, much like the Snapchat app, lets you capture up to ten seconds of video at any time.

These clips are supposed to be fun, shareable moments rather than keepsakes of treasured memories. A great way to capture days out with the mates, then.

How do the Snapchat Spectacles actually work?

You can record a ten-second clip at any time, simply by tapping a button on one of the Spectacles’ arms. The footage will then be captured by the camera, which automatically cuts off after the time is up.

Concerns about privacy are only natural, although measures have been taken on this front. Lights both on the inside and outside of the frame let you and those around you know that you’re recording, to prevent any unwanted creepiness.

Impressively, the Spectacles capture footage through a 115-degree wide-angle lens, which is designed to more closely emulate the human eye and record in a new circular video format. This should, for the most part, alleviate the issue of choosing to film or view content in portrait or landscape mode on a smartphone.

Once captured, your footage then synchronises with your phone over WiFi or Bluetooth.

Snap Inc. Spectacles colours

Why did Snapchat release the Spectacles?

Snapchat/Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel described Spectacles as ‘a toy’ when talking to the Wall Street Journal but the implications of controlling both the software (and now) the hardware give the company the ability to make the whole experience as closed or as open as it likes.

Snapchat’s numbers keep growing as does its skill set, with media outlets submitting Discover stories daily and new internet celebrities aping the success of DJ Khaled in building brands using the platform. That said, Spiegel knows that without diversifying, one app alone isn’t enough to support a company of his size forever and Spectacles is an example of new feelers, reaching out into new territory to see where Snap Inc. can head next, to better retain and maintain that healthily expanding user base.

Snapchat Spectacles UK price and release date

Snap Inc. announced that Spectacles would be coming to Europe as of Friday, June 2nd. That includes the UK, a number of other European countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy, and you can buy a pair online. Check out our Spectacles launch day feature for all you need to know.

You can also pick them up from Snapbots. What the hell is a Snapbot? Well, it’s a bright yellow vending machine that offers the full range of Spectacles. These tend to pop up in major cities at random locations, for a day or so at a time. Their locations are usually teased a full 24 hours before they land. Check out our guide to Snapbots for more info.

Spectacles can be bought for £129.99 in the UK, or €149.99 across Europe.

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