Introducing Lens Studio 5.0 Beta

Today, we’re introducing Lens Studio 5.0 Beta, a rewrite of the Editor that lets you work faster together.

Lens Studio started as an internal tool for Snap AR to build Lenses for Snapchat in 2015 and released publicly in 2017. At the time of our public launch, Snap had built 3,000 Lenses and a third of Snapchatters used them every day. Six years later, 330,000 creators have made over 3.5M Lenses for 250M daily active users. Lens Studio’s community of creators have become the fuel of Snap AR. As a result, what our developers need from us has evolved drastically. We’ve danced around the idea of rewriting our application for many years now, and last year, we finally decided to embark on this journey. Rewriting an app was not a decision we made lightly–trust us, we know rewriting an app is almost never the answer. Yet, we felt confident that it was desperately needed (a blog post for another day). Needless to say, it’s been a challenging, but incredibly fulfilling year.

We approached this transition with careful consideration–we needed to ensure that our community who depends on Lens Studio, many for their careers, wasn’t affected while we internally conducted a full rewrite. That’s why this past year we continued to update, add new features, and support Lens Studio, all while rewriting the platform. We even initiated a few structural improvements in order to make the transition easier for Lens Creators in the long run. For example, we released better support for teams collaborating through more version control-friendly project formats earlier this year (something that we rushed to get to the finish line early-perhaps wrongfully so in hindsight), we decoupled the Asset Library from Lens Studio versions to make sure all our creators' work in the Asset Library were migrated over first, and we launched the Lens Performance Toolkit to help you better optimize for reach and engagement.

We knew if we were to build Lens Studio 5.0, we could only do it alongside our community of developers. So, we looped in selected creators from our Snap Lens Network to provide us with feedback every step of the way. We’re grateful for everyone who volunteered their time to test early and very rough builds with us. We are continuing to refine the UX on new features, while preserving the pieces of Lens Studio 4.0 that Creators got used to and loved. It’s important to us that this tool is just as much yours, as it is ours.

We are excited the Lens Studio 5.0 Beta is finally here! 

Enjoy faster performance across the platform and speedier load times—projects now open 18x faster. It’s terrifying to think that our code base had become so large and complex that we could make a whole cup of coffee before a large project could open. A project that used to take 25 seconds to open now only takes seconds–resetting the bar for productivity on the platform.

We’ve introduced Generative AI features, so you can save time instead of searching for assets or building your own because now you can generate textures and face masks all within Lens Studio. Below is the first external Lens that used texture generation from an early trial version of Lens Studio 5.0 by the one and only Phil Walton.

Froot Loop Lens by Phil Walton

Face Mask Generation

By partnering with Open AI, we’re introducing the new ChatGPT Remote API so anyone can build Snapchat Lenses with it for free. We moderate all Lenses and use techniques to try to prevent inappropriate harmful responses. The following lenses are utilizing the new ChatGPT Remote API.

We’ve partnered with Meshy to provide PBR Material Generation so you can turn any 3D mesh into a beautiful ready-to-use object in your scene. We’ve admired the work that Meshy has been doing in the 3D space for a long time now, and we were stoked to be able to collaborate with them to bring their tech to Lens Studio for free. Their models are continuously improving and our API will evolve with them.

PBR Material Generation

We’ve added small but mighty features aimed at more efficient workflows, like the Pinnable Inspector that allows you to inspect and compare objects at the same time, and finally open multiple projects at once to copy-paste between them.

Copying and pasting between multiple windows

Because we know AR development can often be worked on by teams of creators, you can now take advantage of your preferred version control tools, such as Git, for better project management and mitigating merge conflicts with our updated project format. 

There’s even more to explore, check out the Developer guide for more details, or see what early access developers had to say…

We are encouraging early adopters to dive in and let your creativity run free. The Beta supports publishing your new Lenses to Snapchat and, soon, Camera Kit. You can download the Beta here and join other Beta testers on Discord. Note: Lens Studio 4.55 will remain the platform of choice for production use cases for the time being.

We’re excited to hear what you think and see what you create! The 5.0 Beta will get frequent updates and the latest version will always be posted here. Keep in mind, this version is in Beta, which means it’s still early and there are plenty of bugs waiting to be discovered–for now. After you download, get started with the 5.0 Beta learning modules in the Learn Hub.

By Charmaine Lee, Product Manager, Lens Studio

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I download both Lens Studio 4.55 and the 5.0 Beta?

A: Yes, Lens Studio 5.0 Beta and Lens Studio 4.55 are different apps, you can have both downloaded. 

Q: Can I open projects from Lens Studio 4.55 in the 5.0 Beta tool?

A: You cannot open a 4.55 project (.lsproj) in the 5.0 Beta. However, you may export .lso from 4.55 to 5.0 Beta.

Q: Can I make a Lens for an AR ad using the 5.0 Beta?

A: For AR ads, we recommend creating Lenses with Lens Studio version 4.55. The Lens Studio 5.0 Beta migration is not encouraged and Creators should understand that there will not be feature parity—features can evolve and project files could break until GA.

Q: Can I make a Lens for organic distribution on Snapchat (Public Profile or Community)?

A: Yes! We encourage developers to build Snapchat Lenses with the Beta tool and publish for Snapchatters.

Q: Can I make a Lens for Camera Kit using the 5.0 Beta?

A: For Camera Kit developers, we recommend creating Lenses with Lens Studio version 4.55. There will not be feature parity in Lens Studio 5.0 Beta—features can evolve and project files could break until GA.