Facebook Spark AR vs. Snapchat Lens Studio

With the introduction of Spark AR into the realm of digital marketing, it can be difficult to choose which augmented reality platform is best to promote oneself. For a long time, Snapchat held the throne in this brave new world of 3D effects, manipulated selfies and dancing hotdogs. They were successful in developing a platform that instantly placed new technology, Lens Studio, in the hands of their users. This AR development kit was perfectly suited to Snapchat, and gave them an edge against competing platforms. 

In 2012, social media giant Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for 3 billion dollars in an attempt to enter into the world of instant photo and video communication themselves; Snapchat famously turned their offer down. Refusing to be left out of the burgeoning tech field, Facebook settled with the purchase of Instagram for a billion dollars instead. Fast forward to present day 2020: Facebook has publicly released Spark AR Studio, its very own augmented reality development kit to rival Snapchat. Its first viral hit, a “Which Disney Character Are You?” lens, is already giving Snapchat’s Lens Studio a run for its money.

Which platform is best for me?

Both Spark AR and Lens Studio are very similar in function, the only difference being user interface and release platform: Lens Studio is for Snapchat, while Spark AR is for Facebook and Instagram. Our blog post Instagram Camera Effects: A Lens Into The Future goes into greater detail on the marketability of these platforms. Facebook Spark AR, with its increased reach across both social media platforms, provides a wider audience to engage with. We’ve seen an increase in requests, and they’re continuing to grow as Spark AR effects become more and more popular with both consumers and brands alike.

What does Spark AR have to offer?

Spark AR has an array of different capabilities, it’s most popular being the ability to motion track the entirety of one’s face with a 3D mesh. This allows for more realistic, highly detailed face effects and AR experiences. Often, lenses are used to highlight and/or beautify facial features, virtually apply makeup (which proves popular for make-up lines to promote), or add a fun accessory or hat. 

Spark AR's 3D mesh is used on Facebook and Instagram
Spark AR’s 3D mesh is used on Facebook and Instagram

Quiz Lenses Are All The Rage

Though it’s a simple concept, the latest trend of ‘Who/What/Which Are You?’ type lenses have made their debut as Facebook’s first viral hit for the SparkAR platform, showing just how quickly one small AR effect can spread and inspire iterations that are sometimes better than the original. These lenses are made through using a drag-and-drop system of logical nodes to visualize the programming language, which makes it easier for non-programmers to learn. I was even able to make my own Spark AR quiz effect, try it out yourself on Instagram! 

Quiz Lenses being developed on Spark AR
Quiz Lenses being developed on Spark AR

Author’s Perspective

As of late, we’ve had a major influx of client  requests for Spark AR-based lenses for Instagram and Facebook, which has given me the opportunity to become more familiar with its nuances and intricacies. In my opinion, Spark AR still needs work on some of its user interface, file compatibility and general bugs. These bugs are forgivable considering it’s still a very new program, compared to Snapchat, which has had time to smooth out and polish its user interface. But where Spark AR lacks in polish, it excels in giving its users approachable coding capabilities through the Patch Editor function. This easily allows a new generation of alternate reality trends to crop up in the future.

Work With Us

Reach out to us below if you’re interested in creating a lens using Spark AR, and we can discuss how to turn your vision into an augmented reality.

Final Thoughts

The state of augmented reality is still in a primitive form when compared to the sweeping computer generated scenes in Jean-Luc Picard’s Star Trek Holodeck. The allure of stepping through a lens into a world where you can be anything you want is something to behold, and something we will continue to push for. Until then, we’ll have our smartphone cameras at the ready because there’s immense opportunity for experimentation right here, right now.

One step closer to the futuristic, sci-fi holodeck
Step Into The World Of Augmented Reality

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