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Snapchat for iPhone gains 3D, augmented reality 'World Lenses'

The iPhone version of Snapchat on Tuesday updated with a feature called World Lenses, making more advanced use of the augmented reality technology Snap has experimented with for over a year.




World Lenses insert 3D assets into photos, mapping graphical objects and text to their surrounding environment. As a result users can walk around them, allowing on-the-fly perspective changes.

In a promotional video, some sample objects were presented including clouds, rainbows, and stylized text. One World Lens can actually "plant" flowers as a person walks around.



Until now, Lenses have typically been linked to people, enabling things like masks or face swaps. The new ones can be found by tapping on the camera screen when using the app's rear-facing camera.

On Tuesday, Snapchat's chief rival Facebook simultaneously announced plans to push further into augmented reality through its Stories mobile feature. The company has in fact faced criticism for copying Snapchat, which originated the Stories name and concept, and the same sort of AR enhancements Facebook is expanding upon.