Throw your hands in the air, and wave them like you just don’t care…because Snapchat is now quietly testing a hands-free mode.
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The latest Snapchat beta app (version 10.27.0.18) lets users take up to 60 seconds of video without having to hold down the record button during the duration of the recording.
To activate the feature, users press the record button, then drag downward, and simply let go. Snapchat will still break up videos into 10-second clips, a feature that is currently available for any recordings lasting longer than 10 seconds.
The update does not appear in Snapchat’s app notes for beta users, but a prompt is shown when a user records a video according to a member of Snapchat’s beta program, who spoke to Mashable on the condition of anonymity.
Here’s what hands-free mode looks like:
Snapchat’s prompt for using hands-free mode.
Image: screenshot / snapchat
Screen after taking 60-second video hands-free.
Image: screenshot / snapchat
This new hands-free mode is yet another decision by Snapchat that departs from how the app originally worked. Snapchat users formerly had to hold down a button on their smartphone screens to view snaps and Stories, until an app update in July 2015. But Snapchat users have begged for a hands-free functionality for years, and it’s also something that Snapchat’s competitor Instagram Stories currently offers.
This update will finally give people more freedom when they’re filming video. For example, gadget reviewers can now show off whatever device they’re holding more easily. There are currently some workarounds that people have been using, but a quick search on Twitter for “snapchat hands free” reveals that many are still begging for the feature to be added.
Snapchat can update but can’t produce hands-free recording.
— FRANCIS THOMAS (@francisxthomas) February 25, 2018
In addition to the beta program release, Snapchat has also quietly introduced a full-body AR camera to the official version of the app (10.26.1.0). It’s an update to world lens feature, where users can use augmented reality to add digital animations to their surroundings. Now, the app tracks the movement of items in front of the camera. For example, a current Snapchat lens of a storm cloud prompts users to look for a human body to place an AR cloud above.
When Snapchat’s camera identifies the body, it places the cloud above the person and also will follow them as they move. Here’s an example:
Previously, Snapchat’s world lenses could move and change as the user moves, making them slightly interactive. But Snap has been working more on image and video recognition in the real world. In November, Snapchat quietly introduced new filters that recognized what users were snapping and provided contextual border or sticker.
As Snap continues to face competition from social giant Facebook’s Instagram and new entrants, these updates are key to keeping the app fun and worthwhile for users.
The redesign, released earlier this year, hasn’t been received well from even loyal Snapchat users, such as celebrity Kylie Jenner. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said the company’s priorities for 2018 are user growth, content, and augmented reality — all of which these updates hit.