Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel dismisses Facebook’s metavers as ‘hypothetical’ | Snapchat

Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel has dismissed Facebook’s “metaverse” ambitions as “ambiguous and hypothetical” as he announced a number of new augmented reality features coming to phones and Snap’s experimental AR Spectacles over the next year.

In a speech ahead of the Snap Partner Summit, the company’s annual flagship event, Spiegel claimed that Snapchat was uniquely positioned to guide the next decade of technology thanks to the company’s wide range of augmented reality services, such as “lenses” used by millions of people every day.

With 332 million daily users and a market value of $ 46.95 billion (£ 38 billion), Snap is comfortably larger than Twitter, even after the takeover bid for the latter from Elon Musk, but gets a fraction of the attention. “It’s something that in a way comes with the fact that they are the ‘public square,'” Spiegel says. “We are happy with the value we give to our community – and society.”

He cites statistics that “over 90% of Snapchatters say they feel comfortable, happy and connected when using Snapchat”, which is “ranked as the happiest platform compared to other apps”.

“There are now about 250 million people engaging in AR every day on the smartphone alone,” Spiegel said. “And it is on this tiny little screen that you look through and you use your thumbs on. So we believe that it will be really important in the future to try to break some of these limitations and go into a really immersive and interactive AR experience. “

Snaps latest Spectacles are only shipped in prototype form to creators worldwide: With a battery life of 15 to 30 minutes and a severely limited screen, they are designed to inspire creators with the possibility of future versions of the same hardware. But, says Spiegel, the next generation is already under development.

“It just changes the way you interact when you can walk around and use your hands and watch computers come to life. The power of our AR glasses is the AR platform behind it, met with hundreds of hundreds of thousands of developers, millions of lenses and really, really advanced tools that keep evolving fast. “

At the heart of that development is an update called Lens Cloud that lets developers for both Snapchat and Spectacles build AR experiences that are solidly located in the real world. A set of tools allows lenses to be anchored to any location around the world: Lego has used it to build virtual Ferris wheels, roller coasters and roller coasters around the streets of central London.

Another feature lets two users of the same AR lens interact with each other for the first time, occupy the same virtual spaces, and play the same games.

The updates sound like they could be the foundation of a shared virtual universe of the type that Facebook recently decided was so fundamental to its future that it even renamed the company Meta. But, says Spiegel, the word “metaverse” is never pronounced in Snaps’ offices.

“The reason we do not use that word is because it is quite ambiguous and hypothetical. Just ask a space of people how to define it and everyone’s definition is completely different.

“But one of the great overarching concepts that people have is that many of the tools are designed to replace reality. Whereas when we talk about AR, we’re trying to amplify the real world around you. So our basic effort is that people actually love the real world: they want to be together personally with their friends.

“And of course, our vision is real today, with glasses that you can wear today and a platform that works on a large scale today. So we try to stay away from the hypothetical conditions because we are focused on it. , we’re building right now. “


Snaps Pixy autonomous drone in action.
Snaps Pixy autonomous drone. Photo: Snap Inc.

Spiegel also unveiled the Pixy, “the world’s friendliest flying camera” – a palm-sized autonomous drone that can be used to capture outdoor activities. With a single button to control it, users just hold Pixy in their hand and select one of five modes, including “follow” – the drone recognizes and follows its owner, taking video on the road – and “revealing” – the drone will fly to its maximum height and film the reverse panning while walking.

“Everything you need to capture the spontaneity and fun of the moment from new perspectives is right in your hollow hand,” Spiegel said. “There are no controllers. There is no complex setup. Simply select a flight path and let Pixy take it from there, hovering over you while taking pictures and videos. And it knows when and where to return, and lands gently in the palm of your hand. “

The device can be purchased from Thursday for $ 229.99 for customers in the US and France.

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