You may have heard about Snapchat Spectacles — special sunglasses that sync up with your Snapchat app and contain a 115-degree-angle camera lens that can record videos at any time with the touch of a button.
Snapchat introduced what they call “Snap Specs” back in October 2016, but they’re so hard to get ahold of that only a couple of hundred pairs of glasses have been sold so far.
But that isn’t because of low demand — in fact, if anything, making them this hard to get was a genius marketing move. The Spectacles are selling for two or three times retail price on eBay.
So why are these GoPro-type glasses so popular that they’ve inspired grouchy tech reporters to wait in line for five hours just to get their hands on a pair? There are many pros, but also some cons, to buying Snapchat Spectacles for Android.
Pro: They’re wearable tech that people actually WANT to wear.
Remember the how badly Google Glass failed? Snapchat took advantage of learning from this predecessor. The Google Glass was chunky, unfashionable, and expensive. At a price of $1,500 per pair, not many people could afford them. Those who could afford them came across as geeky at best, or pretentious at worst. They were even given a name — “Glassholes” — because of the numerous incidents reported (mostly in Silicon Valley) of wearers who were thrown out of bars, restaurants and even public transportation.
Snapchat Spectacles are different. The design is simple and classy and the sunglasses come in three colors: black, teal, and coral. When you click the “record” button on the glasses and start taking videos, a circular light-up button indicates to anyone around you that they’re on camera. This is no accident. One of the main complaints about the Google Glass was from bystanders who didn’t realize when they were being filmed.
Additionally, with a going price of $130, Specs are much less expensive than Google Glass. You can even rent a pair of Spectacles from Lumoid, a product rental company, for $30 for a three-day pass. A similar company, Joymode, rents for $40 for a four-day period, but it’s restricted to people in the Los Angeles area.
Con: Snapchat Spectacles are hard to find unless you’re in the right place at the right time.
Part of what makes Spectacles so special is their rarity. First, you have to find a place where the Spectacles are sold. There’s only one way to buy Spectacles, and that’s from a Snapchat-certified vending box called a Snapbot.
Bots are only in select cities at certain times. In order to find where the next Bot will drop, you have to check in with http://spectacles.com. (Currently, there is a Bot on E 59th St. in New York City, which will be there until Feb. 19.) A timer on the website lets you know when the secret location will be announced.
Several fans have reported tracking the Bot Drop, racing to the secret location, and waiting in line for hours only to be disappointed. It took this reporter from Android Authority three different locations and hours of waiting until he finally got his Spectacles.
Pro: You can record longer videos with Spectacles that are saved automatically.
Spectacles will still record videos in 10-second bits, but can shoot continuously for 30 seconds at a time. This allows you to capture videos more naturally by touching a button on the Spectacles to automatically record, rather than having to grab your phone and open up an app. Spectacles are a great way to unobtrusively capture the spontaneous events in your life that you don’t plan for.
“Some Android users might find their Snapchat spectacles experience is different from iPhone users” is the warning Snapchat gives on the Spectacles website. This is because there is no Bluetooth syncing on Android — users have to use Wi-Fi Direct or BLE, which can be frustratingly slow. As Snapchat has layered on more features, the app itself has become more complex. Videos taken with Spectacles show up as a group of stories under the “Specs” tab in the Memories storage of the app. You can edit and add filters from there.