Apple’s (AAPL) highly-anticipated iPhone launch event has finally come and gone. And depending on who you ask, the affair, which is considered one of the most important annual tech events, was either a raging success or simply “meh” — that is to say, everything the tech giant divulged, including the name of its premium tenth-anniversary phone, the iPhone X (pronounced "iPhone 10”), was as expected.
I’ve covered the event in detail here, here and here, anticipating not only the complete redesign from the current iterations, but also the likelihood that Apple would introduced a new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus to offset the sticker shock of the iPhone X’s $1,000 price tag. There's no longer a home button on the iPhone X. Plus, Touch ID has been replaced with a new biometric feature that allows users to unlock the device with a new security feature called Face ID.
Essentially, everything I’ve told you have come to pass. There were hardly any surprises. What was a surprise, however, was the extent to which Apple — while demonstrating the augmented reality (AR) capabilities of the iPhone X — promoted Snap (SNAP). During the keynote Tuesday, Apple said it is working with Snap to develop what it calls “hyper-realistic filters” that can track the face movements of iPhone X users.
Apple's senior vice president Craig Federighi showed how easily the iPhone X’s AR capabilities can power face filters on the Snapchat app to further facial recognition technology. What stood out was the fact that, during the demonstration, Federighi used what appears to be a customized Snapchat app, designed solely for Apple, showing a green and blue medieval-esque mask to his face.
Working with Apple would be a great move for Snap. But not everyone saw it that way. Barron’s called it a “warning shot” towards Snap. “The company [Apple] is getting serious about augmented reality and finding fun applications for the technology, and these could help turn iMessage into even more of a Snapchat competitor,” noted Barron’s.
The embattled camera company, which has mostly iPhone users on its platform, has experienced significant growing pains since its highly-touted March IPO, particularly from its competitive position with Facebook (FB). The company has been able to utilize the iPhone’s camera to develop Snap’s AR-powered lenses to overlay images or graphics onto faces of users via the phone's front-facing camera.
But while Barron’s sees Apple’s efforts to enhance its own iMessage platform with things like “Animoji,” which are animated emoji that mirror your facial expressions, Snap will also have access to the iPhone X's advanced AR features, in addition to Apple's developer platform ARKit, which it can use to build more realistic and detailed lenses and filters.
From my vantage point, Apple’s shoutout Tuesday, which immediately sent SNAP stock soaring 2%, will give Snap some much-needed breathing space. And to the extent that Snap, which arguably introduced AR to the mainstream with its lenses and filters, can leverage Apple’s ARKit to innovate, Snap’s base of disappointing investors will be dancing with its hotdog in the quarters and years ahead.