In case you haven’t noticed already, Snapchap has included a whole bunch of cool new features on its latest update. One of those neat novelties is what they have called ‘lenses.’ If you currently follow a lot of people on Snapchat, you’ve probably already seen them in action, since everyone is trying them out. You’ve probably noticed that as soon as someone raises their eyebrows or opens their mouth, the app automatically recognizes their facial movement and includes an special effect. It’s a new feature that allows anyone to express themselves in a whole new way. But how does it work?
Well, the concept is pretty simple. When you open snapchat and the camera is ready to take a photograph or record a video, all you have to do is press and hold on your face for a few seconds to activate the new feature. You’ll notice that a 3D grip will appear on your face for a short period of time and then new icons will show up. These new buttons are called ‘lenses’ and you can scroll through them to change the desired effect. What’s really cool about lenses, is that you can play with them before actually taking a snap. All you have to do is select one form the row and then make sure to read the instructions that appear on the screen for each lens.
At first you may struggle a little bit with the lenses, some of them may even not work as expected. But if you notice that it’s not working on your face, just keep trying until you manage to make it work. When I first tried it out, I had glasses on my face and the app got a little confused since it tried to automatically detect my eyes and couldn’t find them. It will also get confused if you have a beard, a mustache or facial hair in general. I managed to get the desired effect by scanning my face again, which basically means, I pressed over my face and kept my finger on the screen for a few seconds until it was detected again by the app. It was then that it could properly recognize my face and all the effects started to work as expected.
I made this guide to easily explain how to use the app if you’ve never used it before. Keep in mind that you need to update your Snapchat app in order to see the new lenses. If you own a very old phone, it’s possible that the new update is incompatible and you won’t be able to install it.
How to use the new Snapchat lenses:
Open Snapchat and make sure the front camera is active and you can clearly see your face. It’s important that you place the camera right in front of your face and that the lighting is good. I’ve tried to do it in the darkness and it just doesn’t work. I also tried to activate the flash but the results are poor and it’s like the app can’t tell where your eyes are.
Using your finger, press the screen and hold it over your face for a few seconds, until you notice a 3D grip appears. This grid is a quick scan that detects the most important features of your face. It locates your eyes, your nose and your mouth. It then uses these spots to display the different effects. You’ll notice that whenever the app can’t do a proper and accurate scan, it will display the lenses incorrectly. If that happens, try to scan your face again until you notice the grid covers your face entirely. Make sure you’re the only one who’s in front of the camera and no other people is captured at the same time. The app gets confused when it detects other faces, I’ve seen it do several scans when others are around me.
Now you’ll see that a new set of icons is available on the screen. Each icon represents a different effect that can be applied to your face in real time. As you scroll through, you’ll notice that each lens appears with a big instruction at the top of the screen. The instructions tell you what to do in order to make a specific animation start. Most of the time, you’ll have to raise your eyebrows or open your mouth, but there can be also other gestures that you’re supposed to make in order to trigger the animation.
Snapchat took time to come up with really impressive effects that are a lot of fun to play with. You can take a quick picture while the lens is being played or you can record a video. When the app was first released, there were lots of lenses available that were replaced later on with other lenses and effects. I really don’t know why Snapchat changed them but I guess there’s a good reason for doing it. One of the most popular lenses is the rainbow one, which transform your eyes and gives them a cartoonish look while a rainbow comes out of your mouth. After playing with that effect for days, I can’t find it in the app anymore. I really hope they didn’t get rid of it, since it clearly was a favorite for many. Here’s a list of effects that are available now.
The first effect is one of my favorites. As soon as you activate it, two tears will appear on top of your eyes. Your face is also changed by the lens in order to make you look sad. As soon as you move your eyebrows, tears start rolling down your eyes. A sound effect is also included of a person crying.
The next available effect is the ‘villain’ one. When the lens is activated and your face is properly recognized, it will remove your nose, it will makes your face gray and it will also add a fancy mustache. Whenever you open your mouth, you’ll hear a very evil laugh that comes out of your mouth.
If you move to the next effect, you’ll be able to select the magazine lens. It basically turns your face into the cover of a magazine and you can see and hear the flashes of imaginary photographers going off in the background.
This is another of my favorites. It completely changes your face and makes you look very angry. If you raise your eyebrows, it will also make you exhale air from your nose, just like angry bulls do. I love the fact that your face is extremely red and your expression makes you looks insane.
This effect is relatively new (it wasn’t available when the update was released) and it’s quite simple. A hand appears from the left, it slaps you in the cheek and then a big ‘SLAP’ image is displayed in the center. This is one of my least favorite lenses because it’s like the developers didn’t even try. Both the slap and the image never quite adjust to your face and they look out of place. Maybe making your face change shape after the slap might have caused a better illusion. It just looks like two images are added and they don’t interact with you at all.
This one is a little tricky and I’m not sure what they tried to do here. When you try the effect, the camera quickly zooms in and out while there’s this strange mist around you. I think it’s supposed to be very cold and you somehow leave your cold breath on the glass but I could be very wrong. I really don’t like it when the lens is not clear and you have to figure out what it is, most people will have no idea what it is they’re doing.
The final effect is all about love. As soon as you activate it, little hearts irradiate from your body and whenever you raise your eyebrows, 2 big hearts appear in your eyes before popping like bubbles. The illusion is cute and it looks awesome, a perfect example of what a good lens should look like. Sometimes it’s all about doing something simple that can cause a big impact.
If for some reason you don’t want the lenses, they’re easy to deactivate. Below the icons, there’s a convenient ‘X’ that will make the lenses disappear when pressed. Once they’re gone, Snapchat goes back to act as usual. If you want the lenses again, you’ll have to press your face again and wait until the 3D grid shows up again.
It’s possible that you press and hold for several seconds but the app won’t recognize your face. If this happens the best thing to try is to move to another place that has better light. This app really dislikes darkness and it needs a lot of light to work properly. As I mentioned before, if you notice that the different lenses are not displaying correctly on your face, you’ll have to scan it for a second time or sometimes several times until Snapchat recognizes where your eyes, nose and mouth are located.
I’ve noticed that this new update has gotten different reactions from the users. While some people loved it and had a blast trying all the effects, others have actually gotten quite scared. And that’s a reaction I wasn’t expecting. Apparently, seeing your face being deformed can be quite scary for some individuals and they’ve decided to leave it alone. One of my personal friends told me that as soon as she started trying them all, she didn’t like the animations, and all the sounds scared her. I think Snapchat never thought about that while developing the new feature.
So these are the Snapchat lenses that are available at the moment. You may have seen everyone use a rainbow lens that became pretty popular. That lens was available on release day but now it’s gone for some strange reason. It’s not gone for everyone, some people can still see it and use it. Not sure if Snapchat is displaying different lenses for different locations or if they’re temporarily removing some of them to try new ones.
When discussing the new update with my friends, I noticed that everyone got really excited when they saw all the effects for the first time. It was something that some of them had seen before in other apps, but never in real time. Other apps usually record video or take a picture first and then add the effect after processing the footage for a few seconds. Seeing everything happen in real time while the app tracks your face is an innovative feature I haven’t seen before. But there’s something I noticed after a few days of using the lenses extensively. The novelty wears off pretty fast and there’s just so many times that you can do the same effect before your Snapchat followers start rolling their eyes. I believe Snapchat is aware of this issue and they’ll try to keep the feature fresh by releasing new lenses all the time. Who knows, it may work in the long run. In my opinion, if they continue to offer 10 lenses or even if they include 20 more is not going to be enough. People will quickly get tired of those too. Maybe the solution is to include a very large library with different lenses to chose from. Maybe if there are so many of them, people will not be able to check all of them out and will get easily surprised when seeing a new effect included in a snap. But the very few that are available at the moment are not enough to keep it fun for a very long time. In fact, the few people I talked to told me they’ve used all of the lenses in their snaps already and are not interested in using them again.
I hope you have a blast using this new feature, it’s really fun to play with. Edit: As soon as I finished making this article, I noticed that Snapchat decided to change some of the lenses again and there are new ones. I’ll add a quick update later to explain the ones that were recently added.