Snapchat’s new World Lenses add augmented reality animations to scenes

The rumors have proven true. Snapchat’s Lenses, the in-app filters that spice up Snaps with effects like dog ears and snowfall, were reportedly due for an overhaul, and now, that overhaul has happened.

“While Snapping with the rear-facing camera, simply tap the camera screen to find new Lenses that can paint the world around you with new 3D experiences,” Snapchat’s parent company Snap announced in a news post today. That’s right, friends. World Lenses are here.

With the new feature, you’ll be able to add filters to more than just faces. Rather, you can add AR elements to just about anything your camera lens can see. While Snap is staying away from calling anything “augmented reality” for the time being, for all intents and purposes, it seems like your ability to “paint the world” with “3D experiences” is just that.

This could certainly spell opportunity for advertisers who want to create branded Lenses.

It wouldn’t be the first time Snapchat’s tapped Lenses for commercial purposes. In November, it partnered with film studio Screen Gems on a promotional lens for its upcoming release Underworld: Blood Wars, that used a gyroscope to create an “immersive 360-degree environment.”

In the past, the company’s cooked up Ghostbusters AR features for Sony and promotional tie-ins for 20th Century Fox’s X-Men Apocalypse. And last year, it released new filters to mark World AIDS Day in collaboration with HIV-fighting organization (RED) and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Snapchat’s Lenses are a little more complicated than they look. They’re made possible by Looksery, a Ukrainian computer vision startup that Snap, Inc. purchased for $150 million in 2015, and apply Lenses in two phases.

First, Snapchat models faces and environments in 3D space, taking into account rotation and even occlusion so that the overlaid props and effects animate correctly. Then, they process camera movement in real time, producing the finished product.

“We launched Lenses over a year ago as a whole new way to express ourselves on Snapchat,” Snap told fans in its news announcement, “Since then, we’ve become puppies, puked rainbows, face-swapped with our best friends — and begun to explore how Lenses can change the world around us.” And you can keep exploring with World Lenses.

Article originally published 02-01-2017. Updated on 04-18-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added news of World Lenses release. 

Gaming

Minecraft Earth hands-on preview: The next big AR craze Is coming

Minecraft Earth is a new mobile augmented reality game from Microsoft that has Pokémon Go dead in its sites. The cute monster collect-them-all started the genre, but Minecraft Earth hopes to redefine it.
Mobile

Treat yo' selfie with one of these 13 apps made to beautify your pics

Selfies might be a phenomenon second only to karaoke, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to create. Thankfully, these awesome selfie apps for Android and iOS will make beautifying your self-portraits easier than capturing them.
Gaming

The best Nintendo Switch games, from Breath of the Wild to Rocket League

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Mobile

The best bezel-less phones cut all the right corners without losing space

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we compare them side by side.
Mobile

Motorola One Vision vs. Nokia 7.1: Which is the best budget phone for you?

If you're trying to decide whether the Motorola One Vision or the Nokia 7.1 would be a better buy, then we've got you covered with this comparison. Find out exactly what sets these Android phones apart and which is best for you.
Wearables

Samsung adds One UI and battery boosts to Galaxy Watch and Gear smartwatches

Samsung has updated software for its Galaxy Watch, Gear Sport, and Gear S3 watches to implement its updated and simplified One UI interface. The update also offers new watch faces, battery life improvements, and health and fitness features.
Mobile

New York could dish out fines for texting while crossing the street

Do you text on your phone while crossing the street? The dangers of stepping out in front of a car or bus are obvious, but in New York, offenders could soon face a fine of as much as $250, too.
Social Media

Help wanted: British royal family seeks social media wiz to run its accounts

The British royal family is looking for a social media expert to help it communicate its role and activities to the masses. So if you like the idea of having the Queen as your boss, why not throw your hat in the ring?
Mobile

Realme starts selling phones in the U.K., and its low prices aren’t fiction

Realme, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer from the same group as OnePlus, Vivo, and Oppo, has launched its first device in the U.K. and Europe. The Realme 3 Pro is a competitively priced phone with an impressive specification.
Mobile

The best OnePlus 7 Pro cases to keep your OnePlus in one piece

The OnePlus 7 Pro is OnePlus's latest flagship killer, and it's an incredible phone. But it's expensive, and it's not going to protect itself. Get solid protection in the style you want with the best OnePlus 7 Pro cases.
Deals

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, the best Android tablet in the game, is now $152 off

Apple dominates the tablet market, but others are catching up: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, our favorite Android tablet, proves that these devices have what it takes to compete with the iPad Pro -- and it's on sale right now for just $498.
Android

Here are some common Kindle Fire problems, and how to fix them

Is your Amazon tablet giving you grief? Is it refusing to behave the way you expect? Take a deep breath -- everything will be fine. Here are some widely reported Kindle Fire problems and a few possible solutions to go with them.
Mobile

Unleash your inner artist with the best drawing apps for the iPad Pro

The best drawing apps for the iPad Pro turn Apple's robust tablet into a canvas worthy of a true artist. Here are 20 of our current favorites, whether you're looking to keep things simple or take your art to the next level.