Today, Snap Inc. announced that Snapchat would be launching its acclaimed camera features on desktop. Snap Camera is now available for both Mac and Windows; it also integrates with apps like Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, Skype, and Zoom. When you’re running Snap Camera, you can use Snapchat filters while streaming a game of Fortnite or gossiping with your friends over Skype.
This move to the desktop is a way for the company to expand its reach into user’s lives, while also using the advantages the company has because of their ‘augmented reality filters’.
In order to use the Snap Camera, install the app on your computer and select it as your camera output in a 3rd. party desktop application. When you’re using Snap Camera, you can choose from thousands of Snap lenses, including the ones created using the company’s Lens Studio tool. In addition, you can type in keywords to search for lenses and use a star icon to save them to your favourites.
One of the unique features for the desktop version is that you do not require a Snapchat account to access the app. You can’t even log onto Snapchat from the desktop app anyways. This is somewhat surprising given Snap Inc’s recent drop in users, but the Snapchat Camera on desktop is not about growing its user base.
Instead, the company’s objective is to garner more attention to its AR lens platform so more developers and creators will make their own additions. The desktop camera could entice Lens creators and connect Snapchat to some premier brands for sponsorship deals.
“We’re going down the path of providing more distribution channels [for Community Lens creators] and surfacing their work,” said Eitan Pilipski, Snap’s head of AR. “We think this is a very unique opportunity, bringing Snapchat AR experiences to the desktop.”
Snap announced their desktop integration earlier today at TwitchCon. The company constructed a custom-made integration for Twitch that allows broadcasters to easily add and change lenses while streaming. By scanning QR codes (Snapcodes), fans will be able to unlock lenses they see on broadcasts. They can even subscribe to Twitch channels through a “call to action” that will appear next to Snapcode. If they subscribe, the broadcaster can unlock more lens for the subscriber to thank them.
The past year has been tough for the mobile camera app lost over 2 million users in the past 5-6 months. The company is struggling to find momentum ever since Facebook and Instagram copied their “Stories” feature.
Nonetheless, it’s still used by over 186 million people a day, the majority of which are teens and young people. This makes it ideal for a partnership with Twitch, which has replaced traditional television as the main source of live entertainment among young gaming enthusiasts.
In 2018, the rise of mobile smartphones and apps has made desktop software development a relic of a time gone by. But for those who are more attached to their laptop (ex. online gamers.), the larger screen may make apps more enticing. In addition, through partnerships with tech firms like Twitch, Snapchat may be able to attach its brand to new demographics and create a more rounded Snapchat experience.
“As we’re launching this product, we think it’s such a huge thing for us,” Pilipski said. “It’s going to shape our roadmap in ways that we really don’t understand right now.”