Augmented RealityIndustry Reports

Report by Groove Jones Places Snapchat Atop Social AR Platforms

When looking at AR experiences, Snapchat has the most to offer.


XR studio Groove Jones recently published a study on social AR technology. The article didn’t directly say that Snapchat is the king of social augmented reality. However, a running tally of its tools and features suggests that it is.

Here, we’ll look at Groove Jones as well as their report.

What Does “Social AR Experience” Mean to You?

Groove Jones, for the purpose of their report, defined “social AR” in terms that are a bit different than most of us are used to.

“Social AR” usually refers to AR technology and experiences that can be shared or experienced by multiple users at once.

For their study, Groove Jones defined social AR as “augmented reality displayed through various social apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. It comprises a series of camera filters that are fun, engaging, and can provide a transaction between a customer and a brand or retailer.”

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Most AR experiences take place on a mobile phone. However, not all of these experiences can be shared. Further, even fewer can be experienced by multiple users at once.

Why We Care About Social AR Experiences

Lens Dominos - SNapchat AR
Snapchat – AR Lens

The XR community cares about social AR experiences, as defined by Groove Jones, for three main reasons.

Consumers care about social augmented reality technology because it’s fun and useful.

XR producers care because social AR experiences they drastically increase community exposure to AR technology. According to Groove Jones, Facebook reports 1 billion AR users; Snapchat, another 190 million. Also according to Groove Jones, many of these users would not likely have used social AR if not for these apps.

Finally, companies care about social AR technology because it gives them a new way to interact with potential customers. This is true through both retail and advertising.

Who Offers These Experiences?

While social AR technology is hardly limited to what one might call “the big three,” Groove Jones stuck to an examination of Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.

According to Groove Jones, Snapchat was the first of these to offer social AR technology back in 2015. That’s three years after Facebook bought Instagram and one year after Facebook bought Oculus. F

acebook would launch its first social AR experiences in 2016.

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All of this is important for a number of reasons. Namely, having a timeline of groundbreaking XR events is helpful as the field develops. Keeping track of what all Facebook owns isn’t a bad idea either.

Further, it is significant in that Facebook and Instagram both use AR Studio – Spark AR, also owned by Facebook. Snapchat uses its own AR studio, Lens.

“The Social Platform Scorecard”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the report for users and developers was a comparison of the platforms’ various abilities. The report referred to this ongoing tally as the “social platform scorecard”. While I recommend reading the complete article if you are interested in social AR experiences, a cheat sheet would look something like this:

social AR - best platform report

While Snapchat leads the pack, the report pointed out Instagram’s secret strength in its file size. Facebook allows 2 MB files uploads, good for about 25-second videos. Snapchat follows with 3 MB good for at least 3 minutes. Instagram allows a pack-leading 4 MB.

spark AR studio
Spark AR Studio

The Future of Social AR Experiences

Knowing this kind of information is important for a number of reasons. Users of social media – read, “virtually all of us” – can know which platforms allow the best AR experiences. Developers wishing to create social AR experiences can also benefit from knowing which platforms they can use. However, there is one final benefit.

Social media is such a competitive industry that while Snapchat leads the pack in just about everything, that’s only an incentive for other platforms to produce new content and tools. As the authors put it late in the report:

“One platform may have a unique feature for a while, but we are sure the others will be fast to follow, as the space is highly competitive.”

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance journalist with special interest in emerging technologies. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.