Yo dawg, Snap heard you using Snapchat augmented reality Lenses in your messages, so it's putting its AR Lenses in other messaging apps.
On Wednesday, Rakuten Viber flipped the switch on an update that brings Snapchat's popular AR Lenses to many users of its Viber messaging and voice communications app.
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Viber users will now have access to 30 Lenses at launch for augmented video messaging and photos created in the app, but the selection will expand over time, with Rakuten Viber planning to add 50 to 70 Lenses per month, resulting in up to 300 Lenses by the end of the year. Viber will also offer Lenses sponsored by other brands, with the World Wildlife Fund, FC Barcelona, and the World Health Organization among the early adopters.
"We're excited to bring the Snap camera to Viber users," said Djamel Agaoua, CEO of Rakuten Viber. "Through this partnership, we want to empower the creativity of our users with AR, and we're looking forward to inspiring new fun-filled ways for people to keep in touch with their friends and family members. Viber is more than a messaging app. It not only connects people with each other, it is also a place where users can create entertaining, exciting, and rewarding content to share with their communities."
Snapchat Lens support is available now in the iOS version of the app as well as the beta channel for the Android. At launch, support is limited to users in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US, with broader support among Viber's top 30 regions as well as Android rolling out by the end of August.
The native Snapchat Lens integration does not apply to Viber's apps from Windows, macOS, and Linux, but users of Viber on PCs and Macs have had access to Snapchat's AR Lenses for desktop calls via Snap Camera.
Based on our hands-on with a pre-release version of the iOS app, Viber Lenses bring some unique AR effects to the table. This isn't just a rehash of the same familiar Lenses built by Snapchat and its community of Lens Studio creators. Have you ever wanted to be the T-800 from Terminator, or Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver? Viber has Lenses influenced by both.
Unlike Snapchat, there isn't direct access to the camera for the sole purpose of creating; you'll have to start a message thread with another Viber contact or group first. Tap the camera icon under the message text field to access the camera view. Then, tap the Snapchat logo to access the carousel.
With the carousel active, you can scroll through the available camera effects as you would in Snapchat. Below the carousel, you'll see a menu bar that allows you to toggle between GIF, Photo, and Video mode. (Snapchat engineers, if you're reading this, GIF mode would be great in Snapchat.) Each Lens logo acts as the shutter button for that Lens, with a stop button added to cease recording of GIFs or videos.
After capturing content, you'll have the option to add text, stickers, or drawings to your content. You can also trim the length of videos and GIFs. Once editing is complete, you can save your creation to your camera roll, or send it to your contact or group.
Viber isn't the first app to invite Snapchat Lenses into their space. During the Snap Partner Summit, Snap revealed that Bumble would enable users of its dating app to apply Snapchat Lenses in video chats with their matches. Samsung has integrated Snapchat Lenses into the stock camera app of its Galaxy A Series smartphones. According to a Snap spokesperson, other notable apps with Snapchat Lenses include MLB At the Ballpark, Triller, Yubo, and Smule.
Snap's Camera Kit is what makes AR Lenses in other apps possible. In much the same way that Apple and Google allow app developers to tap into the AR capabilities of their respective operating systems through ARKit and ARCore, Camera Kit gives developers access to Snapchat's AR Lenses for their own apps.
"Snap's partnership with Rakuten Viber is a win-win situation for us both," said Elliot Solomon, director of camera platform partnerships at Snap. "It will help us expand our Augmented Reality technology into regions where Viber already has a solid footprint, and help Viber's users express themselves through AR on the Viber platform."
While the Snapchat app is its main revenue driver, Snap bills itself as a camera company, and its aspirations are increasingly focused on forward-looking opportunities, particularly smartglasses. In this future space, Snapchat, or at least the camera, messaging, mapping, gaming, and computing functionality already packed within it, becomes the operating system for its smartglasses. In fact, next-generation Spectacles already has apps for dance lessons and painting in AR.
Facebook wants to be there, too, where its own AR/VR operating systems unshackle them from the current mobile ecosystem where Apple and Google act as gatekeepers. Snap isn't so concerned about the status quo (CEO Evan Spiegel has spoken favorably regarding Apple's role as a tech enabler), but it benefits in this future state in the same way.
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