Snapchat creates lens to help users reconnect with friends amid COVID-19 – CNET

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Snapchat is rolling out a new AR tool in an effort to keep friends connected across physical distances. 


Angela Lang/CNET

Snapchat on Wednesday rolled out a tool to help friends reconnect via augmented reality amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Friendship Time Capsule uses machine learning to let users “get a glimpse of their friendship in a variety of scenarios in the future,” the company said in a statement. 

To use the tool, open up the Friendship Time Capsule, snap a selfie, choose a year and then send the pic to a friend. The feature will put both people into different scenarios together, such as visiting the moon, from now up until 2120. Snap’s machine learning tech will also age friends according to what year they’re virtually traveling to. 

Snap says it created this tool to “combat some of the difficulties friendships are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The company’s recent Friendship Report found that the pandemic has affected more than a third of friendships around the world in some way. More than half of the people impacted say they don’t feel as close to their friends anymore. 

Going on vacation together is the one event that’s most likely to strengthen a friendship, Snap found. But since that’s hard to do right now, the company says, it wanted to find a way to imitate this in AR, “allowing Snapchatters to share positive thoughts with their friends about where they will go together in the future.”

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