One of the reasons that Snapchat has become so remarkably popular is its ease of use, but when a feature suddenly stops working, frustration can boil up quickly. We’re here to show you how to fix Snapchat’s popular lens feature if it ever is not working.
Of course, when we’re dealing with one of the most popular apps that mobile app stores have ever seen, there are going to be the occasional hiccups and errors. Hundreds of millions of users? Free to download and free to use? With that much usage and with as many tools as Snapchat now has, it’s understandable that everything isn’t going to work right 100% of the time. Additionally, think about how many different devices that the app was designed to run on!
This accessibility is far more a blessing than a burden, however. Even devices that are several years old can still use a vast majority of the features that Snapchat offers, which helps to keep people trendy and up-to-date with current social media offerings, without the need to drop hundreds of dollars on a new device every couple of years.
Of those trendy new features, lenses are one of the most popular that Snapchat has ever added. Right alongside its extensive filter system, lenses allow Snapchatters to dress up their selfies and other photos in unique, ever-changing ways. Additionally, the lens feature is smart. It doesn’t just use your camera to apply effects; it uses your device’s camera to quite literally read your expression, causing exaggerated, fun changes in even the most inconspicuous of faces.
There are several reasons that the lens feature might not work on your mobile device, and we’ll go through several of the most prevalent ones below. Hopefully, with a little digging and some digital elbow grease, we can diagnose the problem and get all of your popular Snapchat features restored for you!
How Lenses Work
Like most of Snapchat’s increasingly popular features, lenses are almost as accessible as the shutter button on your device’s camera. You access them from the very same screen that you access all of the other markup effects available on the app.
Simply press and hold on any face that’s visible in your camera’s viewfinder, and the lens feature will drop down and allow you to cycle through available options. The lenses you have at your disposal will always be changing; the Snapchat app rotates less popular and older lenses out for newer ones, ensuring that there’s always something fresh available to dress up your selfies and snaps.
From puking rainbows to face-swaps, the lens feature is almost as viral as the effects it allows people to produce, and it’s hard to say you’ll find a competing feature in alternative apps that’s more fun than this.
What Makes Lenses Not Work
However, that fun grinds to a halt pretty swiftly when your lenses stop working. Making the matter even more frustrating is the fact that snaps are meant to happen fast! You might run into the perfect opportunity for a selfie, only to find that the moment passes you buy when your lenses are, for some unfathomable reason, not working.
There are quite a few reasons that this can happen to you, and this can make a pretty complicated diagnosis. Before we proceed, there are a few things that you should make yourself aware of sot hat we can properly diagnose and solve this little conundrum.
- You’ll want to know the make and model of your mobile device! Though tech savvy users can recite this as quickly as they can their own birthday, not everyone is so invested in the device they’re using; some people care more about the apps than the hardware, but for our purposes here, it’s information that you should know.
- The available memory on your device is also important. We all love to cram our phones full of apps, but there’s a point where it can become too much! Make sure you have a handle on your device’s free space.
- Know the update function in your app store. This is probably the simplest fix out there, but if your app isn’t up-to-date (or more significantly, your device’s OS itself), then it’s important to know how to go about it.
- Check your surroundings! By this, I mean that you should be aware of your environment. In order for the lens feature to work, you need to be in an area that’s well-lit enough for your device’s camera to recognize your face. Additionally, if too much of your face is obscured by a hat (or mask) this could also cause problems!
Fixing Snapchat’s Lens Feature
All right. We’ve done the preparatory work, you have the information that you need. Let’s get to diagnosing, shall we?
Is Your Device Too Old?
The first thing we’re going to double-check for is whether or not your device can access lenses in the first place. Though most devices released in the past several years can handle Snapchat and its various features without any trouble, there’s a cutoff point for the lens feature.
- If you’re an Android user, you’ll need to make sure that you’re running version 4.3 or newer of Google’s mobile OS. If you’re not, it’s time to update! More on that, below.
- Apple device owners have a little bit more to pay attention to. The following devices are the cutoff point for Snapchat’s lens feature. If you’re using one of these–or better, a newer one–then you should be able to access lenses: iPhone 4S, iPod (5th Gen), iPad 2, and iPad Mini (First Gen). If you’re using an older device in any of these Apple product families, there’s a good chance that your device doesn’t have the hardware necessary to take advantage of this rather advanced feature!
This is a fairly straightforward fix, but if you’re using a device that’s too old for the feature, you’re somewhat out of luck! A few fixes are floating around the web that involve jailbreaking your device, but do to the potential risk of hardware and software damage, I definitely can’t recommend them.
Are You Low on Memory?
Every contemporary mobile device, iOS or Android, gives you the ability to check on your memory usage. You can see how much memory your apps are using, and also, how much available space is left on your device’s memory storage. Either of these things can result in apps not functioning properly. Visual-heavy apps like Snapchat are especially vulnerable to these types of problems since the constant use of the camera and graphics-heavy media feeds can eat up your device’s memory like popcorn.
There are a couple of ways to solve this problem:
- First comes the hard, reluctant decision; if your phone is filling up due to the massive number of apps constantly begging for your attention, then it’s time to get rid of some of them. Freeing up some space on your mobile device can help it run better in a multitude of ways. If you frequently have apps outright crash in the middle of while you’re using them, this might solve that problem, too.
- It might just be that you have too many apps running at once. Both iOS and Android give you the ability to see how many apps are currently active on your device. Close some of these out completely, especially if you’re not currently using them.
Is Your Software Up-to-Date?
Here’s the big one. Is your Snapchat app up-to-date? Is your mobile device’s operating system up to date? If the answer to either of these is, “no,” then you’ll want to get on top of it immediately. In most cases, software updates are offered to us as being “optional,” but if your device or your apps get too far outdated, you’re going to start running into some very affecting performance issues.
- Your device’s operating system is most important, so if you have any big updates queued up, download and install them. Unless you’re intending to jailbreak your device (risky!), there’s no reason to let waiting updates linger in the background.
- Next up: check out your device’s app store. The “updates” section is going to be clearly distinguished whether you’re on Android or iOS. If Snapchat is among those listed apps that have a more recent version released, download it and update it right away. As with your device’s operating system, there’s no real reason to abstain from doing this; patches and updates often bring with them fixes for troublesome features. As long as you’d classify your inability to use lenses as a “troublesome feature,” we might as well attempt this to fix it.
Are You Shooting in Good Light?
Since most of us only qualify as amateur photographers (it doesn’t matter how many selfies you’ve taken; experts have expertise), it’s quite possible that you’re just not shooting your pictures in a light enough environment for your camera to use the lens feature.
Here are some tips for shooting in good light:
- Keep direct sources of light out of your background. This will automatically make your face appear darker, and even the clever light-detection of your device’s camera may not be able to correct it enough for lenses to work. Keep light sources behind your camera, so that they light up your beautiful mug, rather than wash it out.
- Make sure your face isn’t obscured! Snapchat’s lenses have some pretty rock-solid facial detection abilities, but if your face is to obscure to detect, it’s fairly obvious that the lens isn’t going to apply right. Make sure your entire face is in the frame, and that your expression is clear.
- Hold your camera steady. Though current mobile devices’ cameras are fantastic pieces of technology, sometimes their image stabilization can’t keep up with your own movement. If Snapchat is having trouble finding your face in the viewfinder, make sure your hand is steady and that you’re not moving.
The above tips aren’t just good advice for amateur smartphone shooters; you can carry this knowledge over to any photography work that you end up doing.
The above are only the most frequently found problems that prevent users from using lenses in Snapchat. Because there are so many versions of mobile operating systems running on so many different types of devices, it’s practically impossible to identify and diagnose every type of problem that you might run into. In the instance that you’re still struggling, try submitting a bug report to the Snapchat team. If you have your own idea how to fix Snapchat lenses that aren’t working, share them in the comments section!