Hear me out. I know what you are thinking, “I already know what Snapchat is!” And while yes that is true most people know what snapchat is, I think it is still an interesting and valid application to look at when it concerns emergent design. For me personally, I recall it being the first app I saw that had any sort of face altering designs to it. The rainbow mouth and dog ears are some of the most iconic selfies from the early 2010’s.

When you first load up the app it is admittedly confusing. A lot has changed in the many years since its birth. I am not a frequent Snapchat user so I am not up to date with the changes but I do occasionally go on to mess around with the filters. But going onto the app you have three main screens that you can navigate with. You have the camera where you take pictures, then to the right is the stories where you can view friend’s, celebrates, and business’ stories. Finally, to the left is your chat window. The main thing I am going to focus on right now is the camera and the experience with the filters. To activate the filters you touch and hold the camera. Depending on which way your camera is pointing, it will detect the surroundings or your face. Once the app figures out what it is looking at it will bring up filters at the bottom of the device that you can scroll through and use. Some of these filters can be used on dogs, the environment, or with more than one person. You can even make your own filters and import them into the app for others to find and use through the filter search.

As many of the features are newer to me as I don’t really use snapchat anymore the audience is really for younger people specifically people younger than me. I personally would say it is built mainly for people under 30 but the current userbase is way younger than that, being in their teens or early 20’s. Also apart from the age of the users, I think at this point Snapchat is built for users that have used the app for a long time as it is not easy for new learners to pick up quick and easy.

The filters on Snapchat are a really good example of AR. You are taking images of the real world (human faces, dogs, locations) and putting designs onto it. Whether that be dog ears or butterflies on your nose.

The way Snapchat works is by using computer vision to map out your face and line find where your lips, nose, eyes, and any other prominent features are. Then by using this map it will put something on your face or manipulate your face. For example if you use an eye color changing filter the technology will find your eyes and apply a filter to just that area without messing with the rest of your face.

Personally, I think the strengths of Snapchat filters are the variety of options and how quick they work. There is practically no load time to each filter which makes it really fun and easy to scroll through all of them and mess around. I also like the variety that they have. You can go search for practically anything you want. If you want silly, check. Cute, check. Creepy, check. It has it all. This is due to the fact that users can make their own.

However, There are some downsides. The main one is how un user friendly it is. In my opinion, unless you downloaded the app when it first launched and have been a persistent user, it will be hard to get around.

With that being said, I think overall the app is really well made in regards to the filters but the user interface isn’t good which makes using the filters a hassle. So the improvements I would make for the app is to make it user friendly for many people. This would actually help the usage of the app as the user base is quite stale. I think this would let more people utilize the AR capabilities which in turn would make the world of augmented reality more interesting to people.