Snapchat’s name didn’t come up during Mark Zuckerberg’s address at Facebook’s annual developer conference on Tuesday, but the company’s presence was still felt regardless, since Facebook’s strategy consists largely of colonizing the ground already staked out by its smaller competitor.
This became immediately apparent even before the Facebook CEO started his keynote, when Snapchat’s parent, Snap Inc., announced that it had added 3D “lenses” or filters to its Snapchat app, which lets users add virtual elements like rainbows to real-world locations.
Just hours after that news broke, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was rolling out similar 3D add-ons that combine the real world and the virtual, including ways of adding animated effects to real objects. Plants can be given virtual flowers, 3D games can be played on real tabletops, and virtual notes can be left in real locations.
The key insight behind all of this, the Facebook CEO said, is that augmented reality’s near future is one in which smartphone cameras are the key interface, not the bulky headsets or eyeglasses used for full-scale virtual reality.