Snapchat's latest AR trick turns Lenses into games

Snappables make your Lenses an interactive affair.

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Snapchat's augmented reality Lenses are clever, but not particularly engaging. You probably won't use them outside of the occasional moment when they help express what you're feeling. Snap may have a clever way to keep you coming back, though: add a game-like element. It's unveiling Snappables, or Lenses that let you play AR games (and other interactive experiences) with friends. You can fight aliens, blow up virtual bubble gum, or jump into a world like a nightclub. You'll even get a score in some of these experiences, in case you want to challenge a friend.

The first Snappables will be available this week on both Android and iOS, and you'll automatically receive new examples as they arrive. They'll sit to the left of the capture button inside the Snapchat app, while regular Lenses will show on the right.

As unusual as it might seem to make games through Lenses, rather than stand-alone mini-apps, it makes sense for a company in the midst of a turnaround. Games not only increase the chance you'll use Lenses, but also make it likelier that you'll stay inside the app for longer. A back-and-forth game rivalry might last longer than a short exchange of ordinary Lenses. And that, in turn, might lead to you exploring Stories and other app features.

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