Wearing Snapchat Spectacles made me feel like a hipster spy

Wearing Snapchat Spectacles made me feel like a hipster spy

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Image: snap inc.
2016%2f09%2f16%2fe5%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde1lzew.2e908By Saba Hamedy2016-11-11 00:03:19 UTC

Getting my hands on a pair of Snapchat Spectacles felt like getting a golden ticket.

Only instead of Willy Wonka greeting me at the "chocolate factory" (Venice Beach), there was just a bright yellow vending machine. And a line of hundreds of people also waiting to get the specs.

"That's incredible," one person said, admiring the "Snapbot" from afar.

When I finally got them — thanks to a friend at the front of the line who got one for me — I realized why everyone is so excited.

Not only are the glasses a cool tech gadget, they actually look cool when you're wearing them.

I am in possession of @Spectacles pic.twitter.com/d3W29qTuNL

— Saba Hamedy (@saba_h) November 10, 2016

First look

At first, I was skeptical. The packaging made it seem like I was opening a box of tennis balls. It was also 80 degrees outside and I was already sweating from standing around watching the spectacle over Spectacles. Finally, the glasses cost $130 — a big price tag for something that hasn't been widely tested yet.

The glasses come in three colors: Black, teal and coral. I chose the classic black ones, and was pleasantly surprised by how much they looked like regular sunglasses (minus the circular yellow cameras on each side of the frame).

The glasses themselves come inside a bulky case, but there's actually a reason for that: The case also serves as a charger. It comes with a charging cord to charge the case itself. Oh, and a cleaning cloth. The case can apparently recharge Spectacles about four times, and each charge will get you about 400 snaps. If it seems weird to have to charge your sunglasses, that's because it is. Weird but practical.

The first task — connecting the device to your phone — is easy. A few days ago, Snapchat pushed out an app update available to users which make the process easier. All you have to do is hit "pair spectacles" within the app while wearing the glasses. You then push the button above your eye, and the two connect in just a short amount of time.

Unlike the case that charges them, the sunglasses themselves aren't heavy. They are well-fitted specs, designed specifically for snapping on the go.

After setting up comes the fun part: Snapping. In line, it seemed this was the clear draw of the product because Snapchat is a platform that many use every day for fun, for exchanging pictures, video and text. People also wear sunglasses on a regular basis. Combine the two and you have a device that can shape the future of content creation and communication.

"It's a cool new way to capture the world," Kate Edwards, from Venice, California., said while waiting in line. "I think what Snapchat is doing with this device is really interesting."

"It's a cool new way to capture the world"

Like many in line, Edwards works in tech. As an avid Snapchat user, she said she was eager to get the tech world's latest offering.

Spy vibes

Snapping with sunglasses is a little confusing at first, but it gets easier after some time wearing them. They give you a step by step guide, which is very simple.

You just have to press on the button above the camera and on the side of the glasses to take a 10-second video Snap.

The moment you do, a white LED inside the frame lights up, signaling that recording has begun. There's also an outer LED ring, which illuminates so your friends know you are recording.

If you press once on specs’ button, you can extend your Snap to 20 seconds, and you can press again to extend to 30 seconds.

It automatically transfers from the glasses to the app via Bluetooth once you Snap, but takes a minute or two to appear on the app itself.

The videos are then available in your "all" tab in memories, but also shows up in a new "specs" tab. If you took three 10-second recordings, they will be broken up into three ten-second Snaps.

Even though there are lights to show you are recording, I still felt like a spy when wearing the glasses.

It's like the gadget that you'd expect 007 to bust out when he wants to record someone to take them down (he probably wouldn't put the footage on Snapchat, though).

On one hand, feeling like a spy is the coolest thing ever. On the other hand, it feels a bit invasive — like I felt I could secretly film something and no one would know unless they were paying close attention.

Image: luke beshar/mashable

But as far as the videos themselves: They are very high quality, and now can come in a circular video format, recorded through a 115-degree-angle lens.

The circular views remind me of a fisheye lens in that they kind of make the video seem more hipster. Other than that, it looks like just another one of your videos in your memories tab.

Will it be a hit?

The device is not a fashion statement (though it looks normal on), nor is it really a gadget.

Instead, it kind of feels like an extension of Snapchat culture, as evidenced by the hundreds showing up as early as 6:15 a.m. to be among the first to obtain the sunglasses.

It was most interesting to see the juxtaposition of these eager consumers — mostly from the tech, marketing and PR industries — next to the artists, surfers and other eclectic people that make up the DNA of Venice Beach.

One man, a vendor at a T-shirt store on the boardwalk, asked a person in line "What's this for?" The consumer had to explain first the Sunglasses, then Snapchat itself.

Still, it's doubtful such ignorance really matters. Snapchat's curiously enhanced sunglasses will certainly become a popular must-have among the tech-savvy — and perhaps many of the teens and millennials who use Snapchat the most — and I don't know how else you'd define their success.

If that happens, it'll be because Snap learned one of the key lessons from the fall of Google Glass: Spectacles look and feel (almost) like regular sunglasses. They're remarkable by being precisely unremarkable, a subtle message of cool to most, but a signal of out-of-this-world exclusivity to the Snapchat crowd. Put simply: The kids are gonna love 'em.

Topics: Apps and Software, Gadgets, snapchat spectacles, sunglasses, Tech

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November 30, 2016 at 2:24 AM

Try out this article about Snapchat hacking applications.

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