Teams Adds Snapchat Lenses to Video Effects for Meetings

Make Yourself Silly with Snapchat Lenses in Teams Meetings

Yesterday, I wrote about the profanity filter for Teams meetings, which is something that most business could see value in. Today, we have the arrival of Snapchat Lenses for Teams meetings, which is something that I think might spark a different reaction. Microsoft’s announcement calls for people to “let their silly side shine” and notes that “Snapchat Lenses are a witty and lighthearted addition to the world’s leading communication platform.” I think I prefer mesh avatars. According to Microsoft, Snapchat Lenses for Teams is rolling out and should be deployed to all commercial tenants by the end of April 2023.

Snapchat Lenses are available in the Teams desktop client for Windows and Mac. They are unavailable in the browser (including PWA) or mobile clients.

The Teams Snapchat Lenses App

Using Snapchat filters in Teams meetings is not new. The technique was first explored in early 2020 when people used the Snap camera in meetings (Snap camera is now discontinued). What’s different now is that Microsoft includes a third-party Teams app called Snapchat Lenses (Figure 1) in the set of apps published to tenants.

The Snapchat Lenses app in the Teams admin center
Figure 1: The Snapchat Lenses app in the Teams admin center

By default, the app is allowed (enabled). If an organization doesn’t want people using Snapchat Lenses in Teams meetings, all they need to do is disable the app by moving the toggle to the Blocked position. Further control over the app (for instance, to make it available to a limited set of people) with app permission policies. Oddly, Microsoft chose to make the app available to commercial clients only and hasn’t included it in Teams for Education. There’s no indication whether the feature will be available in the GCC, GCC-High, or DoD tenants.

Consent Required

Using a Snapchat lens follows the same process as adding other effects to a meeting participant’s video feed. You can choose the lens before joining a meeting or during a meeting and enjoy the effect in preview before sharing it with others. The Snapchat Lenses are listed under a tab in the video effects section of video settings.

Like the video effects introduced by Microsoft in January 2023, a user must grant explicit consent to allow the Snapchat Lenses app to amend their video feed (Figure 2). This is an example of Teams resource specific consent (RSC) in action where an app receives consent to amend some but not all of the resources available to a user.

Granting user consent to the Snapchat Lenses app
Figure 2: Granting user consent to the Snapchat Lenses app

Once the app receives consent, the meeting participant can download and use any of the available lenses (24 at present). Lenses can combine with other effects, such as a background image or one of the styles or frames provided by Microsoft.

During a boring meeting, participants can wile away the minutes by experimenting with different lenses before settling on just the right one to make the best possible impression on their colleagues (Figure 3).

Snapchat Lenses gives a touch of class to a Teams meeting participant
Figure 3: Snapchat Lenses gives a touch of class to a Teams meeting participant

The Snapchat Lenses app is not available in the preview version of the Teams 2.1 client. It’s a good example of the kind of feature that isn’t needed to test new software that will be added before the client becomes generally available. The lack of the silly lenses might just be a reason to prefer the Teams 2.1 client, but I shall leave it to you to make your mind up on that subject.

Some in the Teams Community Will Relish Snapchat Lenses

In an example of the strange but backed up by a report statistics beloved by Microsoft, they assert that “video calls make up 78% of positive memories in meetings.” Whether having a giant mushroom perched on my head will enable me to create more positive memories in meetings is a research topic that remains to be explored. I have my doubts.

With over 280 million monthly active users, there’s enough room in the Teams user community for features like Snapshot Lenses. It’s not my style and I doubt that I shall ever use these effects after this brief experiment, but then again, I doubt that I am in the target group Microsoft is going after in the ongoing battle to match features already available in Zoom.

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