On Friday, Snapchat debuted their new (and improved) Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses with built-in recording equipment. The glasses are a huge improvement over the first generation of Spectacles, which ended up being disappointing both to consumers and the social media company. But can Snapchat finally break the Google Glass curse with Spectacles V2?
The most immediately noticeable improvement over the V1 model is the design. Larger but lighter, the new Spectacles come in black, ruby, or blue frames with a variety of lens options, including prescription lenses with partner Lensabl. The new model also ditches the goofy-looking yellow circle around the camera, replacing it with a more subtle ring that lights up when you start recording.
Spectacles record video and take photos in HD, and it’s much easier now to upload them to your phone. Using a Bluetooth connection, the syncing process is roughly 4 times faster than the first generation of Spectacles. Based on feedback from customers, Snapchat has also upgraded the new model to record underwater—although users probably shouldn’t try snorkeling with them. Save that for your GoPro.
Snapchat claims that one of the reasons sales weren’t as robust as predicted for the V1 model was because they were available through too many retailers. This time, instead of elaborate vending machines, Snapchat is only selling Spectacles through their app. The company had to take a massive loss due to unsold units of the V1; although more than 200,000 people bought a pair of the glasses, Snapchat seriously overestimated the demand.
Snapchat hopes to hold on to its user base and lure in new customers with Spectacles. The struggling company has lost ground to Instagram and other social media platforms. With the launch of the updated glasses, Snapchat is wisely reaching out to popular users and professional photographers to generate top-quality content. Most customers who purchased the V1 model ended up no longer using the glasses after about a month, so Snapchat needs to prove that these are more than just a novelty.
One possible downside to the updated design of Spectacles V2 is that they look more like regular sunglasses. People like to know that they’re being photographed or recorded, and with a stealthy HD camera poised to capture images anytime, anywhere, you may not realize that the Spectacles are recording. We’ll see how—or if—Snapchat addresses these concerns in the future.