On Thursday, Snap released three new templates for its Lens Studio that will give creators access to augmented reality capabilities previously only available to Snap's own design team.
With the new Segmentation template, Lens Studio users can design Lenses that change the user's hair into wilder colors, transform the sky into an otherworldly environment (similar to the flying whale Lens), or replace the user's background with a virtual backdrop. You can unlock the "Angel Wings" Lens shown below via this Snapcode.
The Marker Tracking template gives Lens Studio creators image recognition capabilities, such as those bestowed upon developers via ARKit, ARCore, Facebook's AR platform (now called Spark AR), and other toolkits. Creators can also use posters, logos, and other graphic art as a marker to track associated animations and 3D content, with Snapcodes affixed near the target as a way to reveal the experience.
Finally, Lens Studio artists can use the "Add from Camera Roll" template to pull faces from the user's camera roll into a Lens scene.
In a memo to employees earlier this month, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel emphasized the company's plan to make AR a key focus for 2019, and Lens Studio is a major component of that strategy.
"We're focused on three core building blocks of augmented reality: understanding the world through our Snapchat camera, providing a platform for creators to build AR experiences, and investing in future hardware to transcend the smartphone," said Spiegel.
After launching Lens Studio last year, Snap has maintained steady support for the tool with iterative updates, such as adding face templates and establishing the Lens Explorer feature in Snapchat to facilitate discovery of more AR creations. In addition, Snapchat has introduced a separate web-based tool to make the Lens creation process even easier.
As far as adoption is concerned, Snap claims that Lens Studio has received 250,000 Lens submissions to date, which have garnered more than 15 billion views in Snapchat. Compared to the metrics reported with Snap's second quarter earnings (100,000 Lenses and 3.5 billion views) in August, Lens Studio has more than doubled its AR inventory, which may be a result of the platform's ease-of-use for non-programmers.
Snapchat has also added some other new AR capabilities in recent months, such as speech recognition and sound recognition, and it's likely that Facebook's AR advancements on its own platform will continue to push Snap to innovate. Therefore, Lens Studio users can probably look forward to even more immersive AR capabilities coming to Lens Studio in the coming months.