For the entirety of its existence, Snapchat has lived on mobile, but in its quest to lead the augmented reality industry, the company is now bringing those mobile AR experiences to desktops.
On Friday, Snap introduced Snap Camera, an app for PC and Mac that gives users access to thousands of AR face effects through their webcam.
Snap Camera's library of Lenses includes effects built by its internal teams as well as those created by Lens Studio users. This gives Snap Camera users more variety than the limited selection present on Snapchat's mobile carousel (though the Lens Explorer feature offers a wide variety of effects from the Lens Studio community).
Once installed, Snap Camera integrates with the computer's webcam, enabling users to apply AR Lenses to YouTube videos and video chats on Skype and Google Hangouts. Snap also offers a Twitch plugin so gamers can enhance their Fortnite streams.
The introduction of the desktop app comes at a time when Snap has reported consecutive quarters of daily average user declines. In prepared remarks for the company's third quarter 2018 earnings, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel attributed the losses to Android users leaving while a rebuild of Snapchat's Android app continues.
Snap Camera does appeal to a certain cross-section of users who depend more on their desktop computers when it comes to video creation or communications. But does it make up for the loss of Android users in a world where mobile is supplanting desktop computing?
Nevertheless, the move brings Snap into AR territory that Apple, Google, and Facebook are not currently catering to with their respective platforms.
That could be considered leadership...if others follow suit. However, considering the fact that the future of AR is pointing toward wearables, this desktop play will likely be an AR path less traveled.
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