MediaTips: Adventures with Snapchat Spectacles

Are Snapchat Spectacles worth it for media storytellers? Reynolds School of Journalism and Wolf Pack What web video collective students Stephanie Lamas, Karolina Rivas, and Paolo Zialcita investigate.

Would you like to try these? Image courtesy of danpeerflix

First, some Snapchat History

Snap Inc. debuted their hit application, Snapchat, on the Apple application store in September of 2011. This proved to be a pivotal moment in the era of social media.

According to Business Insider, over 158 million people use Snapchat everyday and open the app at least 18 times a day. The app lets people communicate more frequently with each other through video and photos without worrying about distance.

The initial draw to the application came from the appeal of 10 second messages, which would disappear at the end of the allotted time. A large part of Snapchat’s platform has been the Snapchat stories feature, which allows users to share videos or photos from their day to their entire friend list, not just a few people. It is Snapchat’s equivalent to Facebook’s news feed.

At the kids park, the result was a bit purple and blue.

Introducing Snapchat Spectacles

Due to how well the app has been doing against competing social media platforms, Snapchat decided to introduce Snapchat Spectacles, which directly connects to Snapchat stories. While using the Spectacles, the user can record a video up to ten seconds long and then post it on their Snapchat profile. Since their release, Snapchat Spectacles has made a total of $150 million in revenue. With all the fame behind it, we decided to take part in the trend.

Snapchat Spectacles were first introduced in November of 2016 and were only available online or through special Snapchat vending machines called SnapBots. SnapBots are only available in California, Florida, and Massachusetts making it very difficult to purchase spectacles in person.

If you live in Florida, Massachusetts, or California, Snapbots make it easier to obtain Snapchat Spectacles. Image courtesy of justtraveling.com

Seeing the trendy glasses for the first time was quite exciting. This was the first time any of us saw them in person and have been able to use them. Sure there were videos promoting them and showing how to use them but you really don’t pay attention to them if you don’t have access to the object.

The User Experience

Snapchat Spectacles are relatively easy to use. Upon receipt of the product, the glasses have to charge before pairing them to your Snapchat account. Contrary to popular belief, videos and photos taken on the Spectacles will not port directly to a user’s snap story. To record video, all you have to do is press the button on the right side of the Spectacles.

These videos are imported into Snapchat through the “memories” tab, where you can sift through them and add any into your story. Snapchat Spectacles record video with a circular lens, which means tilting your phone to view the video will give you a more panoramic view of your Snapchat.

The most difficult aspect of Snapchat Spectacles is dealing with the technical side of the hardware. Clearing out the internal storage isn’t as self explanatory as it can be. Also, it comes with the default setting of not being able to record in HD footage, which means users have to find the setting and change it to 1080p.

Our team gets ahold of the new trend. Video courtesy of Wolf Pack What

Problems

Although the spectacles make it easier for consumers to record video without the use of their cellular devices, the invention still has its flaws. First off, the camera on the lens does not perform well under poor lighting. It is almost impossible to distinguish a single object in the scene. For example, when out on a walk a rabbit stopped about 2 feet away from me but when I checked my phone to see how the shot looked, the scene was completely black. Which leads me to the second problem I had with the spectacles. There is no way to playback footage on the glasses. You can only do this by using your phone to check the footage which I find extremely annoying especially since I tend to put away my cell phone.

Snapchat Spectacles on an evening walk with a dog.

Final Verdicts

Stephanie Lamas, Naysayer / Privacy Protector

For me, Snapchat Spectacles are a passable purchase. Not only does it make you look elitist and quite frankly, stupid, but it also is inherently pointless. There’s nothing wrong with wearing normal sunglasses and whipping out your phone to take Snapchats. In fact, some people, like me, would argue that posting on your Snap Story is kind of creepy and breaches the veil of privacy and non transparency that all private citizens are entitled to. If you value money and privacy, give the Specs a pass.

Paolo Zialcita, Head Cynic / Bored

Snapchat Spectacles are great for a one-time use. The glasses are exciting at first but becomes boring after one use. Personally, I would not buy a pair for more than $30 because I do not see myself using them often. In fact, TechCrunch reports that Snapchat Spectacle sales are failing. Company sales have declined by roughly 35 percent. The product was a neat trend at first but I would rather use my phone to take snaps because of the features you have without the glasses (stickers, zoom, filters). Plus, it is easier to use your phone instead of having to pair your phone to the glasses. It’s a no from me.

Karolina Rivas, Good Sport / Disappointed

Overall, it was fun experimenting with Snapchat Spectacles but I cannot see myself spending money to buy a pair. They were fun to use but later became annoying because of all of the flaws it has. Also, I felt very uncomfortable wearing them because of their unusual look. I had many people staring at me and pointing to the glasses making it difficult to enjoy the experience. I also found it upsetting when I found out how long they take to completely charge. I charged them all night and they only charged to four bars. They are fun to use but only for a certain period.

Experimental Reporting by Stephanie Lamas, Karolina Rivas, and Paolo Zialcita for the Reynolds Sandbox

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Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.