Snapchat Is the Next Evolution in Photography
The company’s Landmarkers feature seamlessly melds the real and the imagined
Snapchat is back, and it’s doing just fine. That’s the message the company wanted to get across when it held a flashy event on April 4 in Los Angeles, unveiling a ton of new and quirky ideas designed to lure users back to its app.
The presentation could have been mistaken at first for a yellow-tinted Apple event, but the company showed off a bunch of creative new ideas, from an in-app gaming platform to Snap stories coming to outside apps like Tinder. But the standout was a new feature called Landmarkers, which allows you to remix the world around you with augmented reality filters in real time.
If you’re visiting a famous landmark, like the Eiffel Tower, tapping and holding within the camera will reveal special new filters. Tap a filter, and Snapchat will layer another reality on top of it, seamlessly blending the real and virtual worlds together. The demo teased the Eiffel Tower vomiting rainbows, New York’s Flatiron Building covered in 3D pizza, and other psychedelic possibilities like buildings growing eyes and long necks.
The camera is now the app.
These new “filters” are driven by the community — any user can invent one using free software — allowing creators to make a mark on the physical world by intimately tying it with the digital one. Landmarkers is a genius move, not because it’s weird or perfectly targeted to millennials’ sensibilities — though it is — but because Snapchat wants to redefine the way we think about cameras. The camera is now the app.
My initial reaction to the feature’s demo was one of confusion: Why would Snapchat build this? But that confusion quickly morphed into a realization that I was watching the beginning of the next wave of photography: the intersection between what’s real and what’s invented.