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Snap Spectacles 2 review: Boring, but better

I'll admit it. I was one of those assholes who went out and bought a pair of Snap's Spectacles when they came out. I wore them most places, even at night or when they didn't go with my outfit, on the off chance that I might witness something Snap-wor...

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Snap’s updated Spectacles are doubling-down on an unfulfilled vision

Snap showed off a new update to it’s fabled Snap Spectacles today. They’re new, but only sort of, and it’s not clear that they’ve learned much since the glasses first debuted in fall of 2016. The changes they did make with V2 (water-proofing, higher-def video, slightly updated design) have fundamentally been tweaks towards perfecting a vision that consumers don’t seem to be identifying with already, all in a package that costs more . Frankly, Snap was a much cooler company when Spectacles first launched a year-and-a-half ago, Instagram Stories had only launched weeks earlier, Snapchat hadn’t embraced a tumultuous redesign and the then-private company just generally had more positive buzz around it. Fast forward 2018 and the company’s updated “toy” glasses have a little bit more riding on them, not necessarily for the potential hardware revenues, but because they need to help the company steal back its cool factor lunch that Instagram has been eating . Water-proofing and higher-def video are evolutions meant to appease existing users who have pushed up against the limitations, but this update is likely still too minor to get those people to upgrade, so what is Snap really gaining here aside from a shot at getting those already on the fence? My colleague Josh Constine was optimistic with what the updated product had accomplished, “After two days of use, I think Spectacles V2 cross the threshold from clumsy novelty to creative tool accessible to the mainstream.” But as someone who hovered over the “add to cart” button on Amazon countless times after spending time with the originals, I personally just can’t see these updates being enough to truly widen the product’s reach in the coming months. Keeping the price the same would have been shocking enough, but raising the price from $129 to $149 is just arrogant. Pricing a product like this in reference to the high-end eyewear market is understandable but they are fundamentally a gadget, albeit one sitting alone in a product class no one asked for. Spectacles didn’t really need all these minor updates right now, with this product strategy unchanged they needed to drop the price to $70-$100 and just focus on tightening up the experience on the software side. The utility of these glasses is definitely suspect, but they are unquestionably unique in purpose and offer an early future for high-tech eyewear that so many tech giants are already betting on. While Google Glass of the past and Magic Leap of the present have promised the world, Spectacles were supposed to approach consumers in a place where they already were in a way that would get them comfortable with wearing a computer on their eyes.  This is still the vision, but Spectacles haven’t cracked what this really means yet

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Snapchat will test unskippable ads in May

Snapchat is considering a new-but-familiar way to profit from its content: According to DigiDay, the company will start testing six-second TV commercial-like ads starting around May 15. By "commercial-like," we mean you can't skip them at all -- as i...

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Snap lays off another 100 employees

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, is undergoing yet another round of layoffs, according to Bloomberg. This time, the cuts are mostly focused in its advertising department. Variety confirmed with Snap that the company is laying off around 100 work...

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Snapchat’s new feature is aiming to turn Snap Map into a next-gen newsfeed

Snapchat may still be getting a lot of heat for their redesign, but the company is continuing to devote resources to build out Snap Map, the map-based feature it introduced last year. A new feature called Map Explore will let you thumb through Snap Map updates in a more methodical way, so that you can see where your friends are and where they’re traveling. These statuses are generated by your friends’ movements rather than them physically typing out something on their own. Snap Map is importantly an opt-in feature, so if you’re understandably creeped out by the privacy implications, carry on. The feature, first noted by The Verge , is furthering Snapchat’s idea of a map-based feed in Snap Map, but Map Explore integrates some more conventional UI elements and notifications to call users’ attention to items of interest that might otherwise get lost in the expanse. It’s just a start, but it’s definitely a necessary move. Expecting users to pan around a map is daunting enough for the immediate surrounding area, but when you’re trying to get users to see where your friends are vacationing or doing other cool stuff, it’s a lot more difficult. The feed can give updates on the jet-setting habits of friends who are going on trips; it also can give location updates when they’re off to the beach or at another noteworthy spot. What’s perhaps most interesting is that Snapchat says they’ll be using the feature to push updates or breaking news updates to users based on areas of the Snap Map that are seeing a lot of traffic tied to news events. The feature is going to be rolling out globally in the next few weeks.

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Third-party AR lenses will appear in Snapchat’s main carousel soon

 After leading by example for quite a while, Snap is going to start putting AR lenses built by third-party creators front-and-center in the Snapchat app. The move, first reported by Mashable, will bring creator content to the main stage. While third-party filters have been a hallmark of the app for quite a while, Snapchat has generally stuck to its own guns when it comes to its lenses. Read More

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