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.