June 10, 2024

Snapchat Camera returns to your webcam

The Return of Snapchat Camera: From Desktop App to Chrome Extension

Snapchat has reintroduced its popular augmented reality (AR) lenses through a new Chrome extension, marking a significant return after the depreciation of the Snap Camera desktop app in 2022. This move brings Snapchat's beloved AR functionality back to desktop users, enabling a seamless integration of creative lenses into various online interactions.

A Brief History of Snap Camera

Originally launched in 2018, Snap Camera was a standalone desktop application that allowed users to apply Snapchat's AR lenses to their webcam feeds. This tool gained traction during the pandemic, as remote work and virtual meetings became the norm. However, in January 2023, Snap Inc. decided to discontinue the Snap Camera app, citing internal restructuring and a shift in focus as potential reasons.

Despite the discontinuation, Snapchat's commitment to AR remained evident. The lenses continued to be a core feature on mobile, and users could still access them through Snapchat for Web, albeit with limited functionality compared to the dedicated desktop app.

The Resurrection via Chrome

In May 2024, Snapchat resurrected its AR lenses with the introduction of the "Snapchat Camera for Chrome" extension. This extension allows users to add AR lenses to their webcam feeds directly through the Chrome browser. By installing the extension from the Chrome Web Store, users can integrate Snapchat's lenses into video calls, recordings, and livestreams across various web platforms, including Google Meet and Zoom.

The extension provides a vast collection of lenses, from trendy effects to custom creations, offering a unique and personalized experience for every interaction. Users can also design and publish their own lenses, making the possibilities virtually limitless.

How to Use Snapchat Camera for Chrome

Using the Snapchat Camera extension is straightforward:
1. Download the Snapchat Camera extension from the Chrome Web Store.
2. Log in with your Snapchat account.
3. In the video settings of your preferred web app (e.g., Google Meet), select "Snapchat Camera" as your camera source.
4. Open the Snapchat Camera pane from the Chrome extension menu, select a lens, and start your video call or recording with the chosen AR effect.

This extension not only revitalizes the user experience but also integrates smoothly into daily workflows, allowing for fun and engaging interactions in professional and personal settings.

The Bigger Picture

Snapchat's reintroduction of its AR lenses via a Chrome extension is part of a broader trend where major tech companies are investing heavily in AR technologies. Companies like Microsoft and Google have been incorporating AR into their platforms, recognising its potential to enhance user engagement and provide immersive experiences.

Snapchat, with its young and innovative user base, continues to lead in AR creativity, offering tools that make digital interactions more vibrant and dynamic. This move not only meets the current demands of virtual communication but also positions Snapchat as a key player in the evolving landscape of augmented reality.