Apple teased iPhone X-exclusive AR Snapchat Lenses at the phone’s launch event last year, and today, Snapchat is finally releasing them. Only iPhone X users will be able to see the three lenses that are available today, thanks to the TrueDepth front-facing camera of the devices. Those lenses include a Mardi Gras-esque mask, a Day of the Dead skull, and a pretty gold-plated eye cover.
You’ll immediately notice these lenses more tightly sticking to your face, particularly around the jawline, at least going off Snapchat’s provided photos and videos. Snap says the lenses should reflect the surrounding light more realistically. It also says the TrueDepth camera lets it blur the background in these lenses and accurately apply small details and 3D objects.
When Apple mentioned and demoed these lenses in September last year, it didn’t explain how much data app developers would receive from the camera. Reuters reported in January that the company plans to share facial mapping data, which would power these accurate lenses.
The company’s developer agreement says third-party app makers only have access to the visual facial mapping data, not the mathematical representation of it that is used to unlock the iPhone X through Face ID. Apple claims the latter is encrypted on the device itself, so not even its own employees have access to it. But developers do have access to a map of a user’s face as part of the TrueDepth camera, as well as data on up to 50 facial expressions that could tell a developer how you raise your eyebrows or move your mouth.
Apple previously said this data can never be used for advertising or marketing, and that it cannot be bundled and sold to analytics companies or data brokers. Apple also says it bans developers from creating profiles of otherwise anonymous users by using identifying facial capture information. I would guess this means that Snap can’t store information about the expressions you make with these lenses or use them to target you with ads, although I can imagine companies will want to take advantage of the technology to brand these lenses eventually.
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