You won’t have to ask Santa for holiday-themed augmented reality experiences, because practically any social and shopping app that offers AR effects has them available now.
Despite the relative ubiquity, a new set of seasonal AR Lenses in Snapchat (iOS | Android) stand out, as they also showcase the app’s powerful machine learning chops.
For example, the Family Portrait Lens leverages the aging and gender-shifting effects from the Time Machine and Gender Swap Lenses to create a virtual family based on your likeness, with yourself, your opposite gender doppelganger, an elderly you, and an infant you posed for a Christmas card.
Meanwhile, the Santa’s Beard Lens takes the Time Machine concept and applies it to gradually transform you into Santa. Like Time Machine, a slider enables you to shift your appearance into increasing degrees of Santaness. It’s like that Tim Allen movie, but shorter and with less plot.
Finally, in more standard AR fare, the Ugly Sweater Lens overlays a virtual ugly sweater with the greeting “Snappy Holidays” and a knitted face mask extension, because we should all be wearing masks.
All three experiences can be unlocked via the Snapcodes shown below or accessed under the holiday category of Lens Explorer in Snapchat, while the Ugly Sweater Lens is also featured in the Snapchat Lens carousel today.
Previously, Snapchat used its Landmarker Lens technology to virtually restore Big Ben for the 2018 holiday season.
Augmented reality plays a bigger role than ever in this socially-distanced 2020 holiday season, as families worldwide continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in varying degrees. AR-enhanced social and video apps can help families connect at a time when best health practices call for limited in-person interaction.
Additionally, Snap’s role in connecting families extends beyond Snapchat to desktop video conferencing services like Zoom and Google Meet via Snap Camera, which can act as a virtual camera to add AR effects to video chats. If you haven’t pulled off this magic trick yet, here’s a handy guide for getting started.
While the virtual video experiences pale in comparison to being physically present with friends and family, they offer a fair substitute when the real thing is inadvisable for the safety of all.