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The camera-equipped glasses are back—but they may not be better than ever.
Today, Snapchat announced its second-generation Spectacles. The new camera-equipped glasses build on a number of features of its predecessor. It’s faster, has a more slender design, and isn’t instantly destroyed if it takes a dunk in the water. However, its presence, and its upgrade, do nothing to solve the real issue here: Nobody wants your Spectacles, Snap.
First, the basics: Spectacles 2 cost $150—$20 more than the first-generation version—but feature a more streamlined form factor that fits “more easily in a pants pocket,” according to the Verge. Like the original, the glasses have a small camera situated in the outer upper corner of each eye, but photos now transfer from the spectacles to your phone significantly faster. (Although the upload process is still reportedly clunky.) The second-generation Spectacles themselves are also now safe to be submerged for short periods of time, and its charger (its bright yellow case) is also splash-proof.
Other improvements include the ability to take photos in addition to video clips—both in HD—and the addition of a second microphone for better audio capture. On one charge, the glasses can shoot up to 70 10-second video clips—that’s roughly unchanged from its predecessor. The charging case, meanwhile, can charge up the specs four times before needing to be recharged itself.
If you require prescription lenses, Snap is working with Lensabyl to address those needs.
Despite the alarming failure of its first generation Spectacles—both from a sales perspective and from a usage one—Snap went ahead and is trucking on with this second-generation model. Snap thinks its Spectacles 2 will succeed where its original glasses failed because it has addressed some of the main problems of the first-gen model. “Snap talked with customers and drew up a list of employees’ own complaints about the original,” the Verge’s Casey Newton writes.
Thanks to its improved water resistance, Snap is billing these glasses as a sort of GoPro alternative for vacations and tame adventures. (Much of the examples on its webpage center around capturing fun on a beach.)
In truth, the glasses do kind of address a pain point of smartphone users: It lets you capture a photo or short video nearly instantaneously, without needing to whip your phone out of your pocket or open a camera app. To that end, the glasses could prove useful for those who find they’re constantly missing out on brief, stupendous photo opportunities.
Overall, though, Spectacles 2 still look almost exactly the same as the original, a design that is decidedly toy-ish and arguably out of place on anyone over the age of 30. And despite increased integration with the Snapchat app itself, there’s still little to justify the $150 spend. It’s a novelty bordering on a gimmick, lacking a compelling use beyond capturing your bro’s rad kickflip on the sidewalk. From a business perspective, Snap might have better luck targeting specific industries like law enforcement, so officers have a quick, easy way to document evidence of parking and moving violations. In the hands of some strategically selected influencers, however, perhaps Snap can transform its Spectacles into a Gen Z mainstay—if it can overcome the ire around its app redesign, first.
Regardless of how Snap’s second-generation Spectacles perform, this won’t be the last we hear of the glasses. The company is reportedly already working on a beefed-up $300 version better suited to augmented reality applications.
Snap’s Spectacles 2 come in three different colors, onyx, ruby, and sapphire, and are available for order today.
H/T the Verge
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.