Snapchat’s unexpected rebranding to Snap Inc. may have come as a surprise, but it’s the company’s first hardware product that really has us talking.
The sunglasses, which record videos in 10-second increments, are expected to be available for sale sometime “soon.” Snap Inc., as the company is now called, says it will be producing the glasses in small quantities.
Snap Cheif Executive, Evan Spiegel revealed the glasses to a Wall Street Journal reporter, who wrote that the CEO literally covered the glasses with a towel before uncovering it like an excited magician, to reveal to him the company’s first hardware product.
So what are these glasses? Well. Here’s what we know.
A Glass Explorer Edition goes for about $1,500. Spectacles will be priced at an altogether more reasonable $129.99; less, indeed, than you might pay for a pair of designer sunglasses without a camera built in.
It does exactly what it should do
Google had big ambitions for Glass, envisaging the wearable computer as a notifications hub, telepresence rig, location-based services interface, and of course a mobile camera. In contrast, Spectacles are a kooky way to take video to share on Snapchat while leaving your hands free.
Hit the button on the arm of the sunglasses, up by the hinge, and they automatically capture ten seconds of video. You can press it up to two times more to daisy-chain more footage on.
You don’t need your phone to record
Spectacles are intended for standalone filming. Their battery is good for “a day’s worth of Snaps on a single charge” according to Snap, and they come with a glasses case that doubles as a mobile power pack; you’ll get about four full charges from it.
Clips are stored on the glasses themselves, though we don’t know what resolution they’re captured at yet. Unlike what you might shoot on your phone camera, the footage is also circular rather than square or rectangular, and it’s shot with a 115-degree lens – and iPhone, in contrast, is around 74-degrees – to fit more into the frame.
You will, however, need your phone to share
Spectacles are still dependent on Snapchat to actually make your video clips social. They connect via WiFi or Bluetooth to your iPhone or Android device, and then add the footage to your Memories; from there, you can choose to share them in your Snapchat Story.
Snap is making it crystal clear when you’re being recorded
If there was one thing that made people livid about Glass, it’s the idea that they might’ve been filmed or photographed without realizing it was happening. Google always pointed to the fact that the wearable’s eyepiece was illuminated while video was being captured, but many wanted something more obvious like a bright red LED as you’d find on an old-school camcorder.
Snap is taking no chances with Spectacles. The ring around the camera lights up when you’re recording, and there’s no fancy (and surreptitious) voice or wink-controlled triggering: you have to press the button.
When will it be available?
Good question. Snap Inc. says that Spectacles will be “available soon” though nothing more specific, and it’s not clear at this stage how many it’ll be offering for sale.