Taron Foxworth


What the Internet of Things Has to Learn from Snapchat

Snapchat just beat every connected device maker at their own game. Every company that makes a connected device can take a lesson from the Snapchat Spectacles.

Let’s be honest; the Snapchat glasses don’t really have a significant purpose in life. They are just cool. However, I think that’s the point.

Though they don’t add to my life, the Spectacles were by far the best experience I’ve had with any connected device. Since using them for the first time, I was in awe. Snapchat just schooled every connected device maker at their own game. Every company that makes a hardware product can learn from the Spectacles.

How Snapchat solved some of the common IoT problems will not translate from the Spectacles to other devices, but they should use the Spectacles as a source of inspiration. If all devices worked like this, IoT would cause fewer headaches.

There Was Almost Zero Setup

First of all, the setup process was just absolutely beautiful. All I had to do was take out my iPhone, turn on Bluetooth, and look at my Snapchat code. That’s it. Immediately, I was able to record and publish a video. It happened so fast, I thought I did it wrong.

Snapchat deserves a round of applause. Every device’s setup process should strive to be this simple and fast. I should not have to spend thirty minutes configuring my new smart toys.

Snapchat had one huge, noteworthy advantage here. We didn’t need to download a new app. Most already have the Snapchat app before the Spectacles.

Sharing is Caring

Have you ever let a friend use their phone to control the music on your Alexa for a party? Or better yet, ever try letting someone borrow your Apple watch to try it out? You essentially have to go through their setup process again, which no one wants to do.

When a friend of mine wanted to use the Spectacles, I suddenly got worried. In the back of my mind I just knew something was going to have to be reset. But to my surprise, she just put them on, looked at her Snapchat code, and started recording.

I was in shock. It was just as easy for me to share with a friend as it was for me to set up. I almost cried. How nice would this be for other devices?

Battery Life

Battery life is the most annoying part of buying a new connected device. No one wants to charge fifteen devices. The Spectacles didn’t solve this problem, but the solution was ingenious.

The Spectacles’ battery last for about 100 videos clips, which for me translates to about a day of usage. Best of all, the case for the glasses charge the glasses themselves. So, I can get 3x the battery life without continuous charging.

Battery life is surely a technical limitation. But Snapchat was able to think through how people use the device to make this restriction a little less painful.

If I wanted more, I had to do more.

The glasses have almost no configuration. One would quickly notice that when you use the glasses, the quality is just okay. Then I noticed a “Get HD” button. Once pressed, it triggered a wifi access point that was conveniently open on the glasses. I connected, then boom, all my videos started to import in HD.

I’m sure this was just a limitation of Bluetooth, but Snapchat didn’t make me think about that. If I want more, I had to do more. I’m okay with that. Devices should do their job with ease and let the user be super if desired.

Snapchat did not think of developers first

If you want to make something cool, don’t give it to geeks first.

I understand the developer-first approach. It allows the developer community to build cool features, which others benefit from. However, a lot of people, primarily millennials, won’t use the device if it’s not cool.

Did we need 360 videos? Absolutely not. However, if you see on Snapchat it’s beyond incredible. I have not gotten any response besides, “Wow.”

They could have easily had more features like longer videos, an API, etc. Instead, the glasses are simple and do their one job well.

How to learn from this?

Snapchat faced the same problem as every other device maker. They even managed to do a better job than Google at creating smart glasses. The Spectacles are simple, and their experience is fantastic.

Snapchat was able to solve common IoT problems by looking at how people will actually use the device and leverage those scenarios.

Today, Integrating everything is still an absolute pain in the ass. But, oddly enough, the Spectacles gave me hope. I hope for a world where every device works similar to this.

Best of all, I’ll continue to use it even if they don’t serve a significant use to my life. They’re freaking cool. 😎

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