Snapchat just fast-tracked the majority of its app user base into the world of augmented reality production by making its Lens and Filter tools available to anyone with a web browser.
On Thursday, Snap released a new web-based tool called Create Your Own that lets anyone create a custom Filter or Lens with a temporary time frame and geofence — for a price.
While Filters will be of interest to many users looking to add thematic, ornamental framing to imagery, for our AR-obsessed purposes, this custom Lens tool appears to be a powerful addition to Snap's augmented reality arsenal. Right in the browser, users are given a pre-designed set of AR Lens that cover events including Valentine's Day, birthdays, weddings, general celebrations, and "greatest hits" (a random selection of fun Lenses). Overall, there are 150 Filter and Lens templates available at launch.
Once you type in your custom text and place it where you want on the smartphone screen-sized design template, you can then select a time span and location for the Lens' activity.
The official announcement states that the time and space metered geofencing starts at $9.99, but we were able to set geofence parameters for as low as $2.99 in one case (which covered part of a New York City block).
However, things can get expensive with the geofencing tool, as an attempt to geofence the entire area of Central Park, New York (2.5 miles long, half a mile wide) was successful but cost about $1,000 (which appears to be the top pricing limit of the tool).
According to Snap, the pricing is based on "how long you want it to be up for, how big your geofence is, and where your geofence is located."
In that area, it's also worth noting that while the tool worked for cities in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada, attempts to use it in cities located in Asia and Africa didn't work.
As a followup to the more refined and developer-centric Lens Studio, announced in December, the Create Your Own tool will be a welcome addition to the less tech-centric Snapchat users.
But beyond extending the reach of the app, this could become a huge new revenue source for Snap (in addition to its new swag store) if users decide to open their digital wallets to the new AR customization tool.