The Ray-Ban Stories 2 is here with a new design, new specs, and a new name

We knew Meta Connect 2023 would be when Meta finally told us everything we needed to know about the soon-to-release Meta Quest 3 VR headset, but that’s not the only XR gadget up Meta’s sleeve. It also introduced us to its latest smart glasses collaboration with Ray-Ban, (up for preorder right now starting at £299, US and Australian pricing to be confirmed) and I got to try them out.

This follow-up to the Ray-Ban Stories may not be called the Ray-Ban Stories 2 – officially it’s known as the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses Collection (quite the mouthful, I know) – but it might as well be a sequel. Meta has improved everything, from the internal components to the design of the case, while keeping everything that makes the Ray-Ban Stories what they are.

The first improvement is the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses’ camera. It now boasts a 12MP snapper instead of 5MP, which will capture images and video at a higher resolution than before. The 32GB of internal storage can hold up to 500 photos, or 100 30-second videos. The mic system has also been upgraded, and Meta says the five-microphone setup is better at capturing immersive spatial audio.

You’ll likely notice the speakers are better too. According to Meta, the open ear speakers in each arm are 50% louder than those found in Ray-Ban Stories. Plus, Meta promises they can deliver deeper bass, greater clarity and have less audio leak (so people should have a harder time hearing what you’re listening to).

RayBan Meta Smart Glasses jumping out of their case

(Image credit: Meta)

A new useful feature is the addition of a simple voice assistant. You can instruct it to take a photo or video, or if your Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses are wirelessly connected to a phone, you can ask the assistant to call someone in your contacts and send them a pic of where you are.

The design has also been refreshed. You can still pick up a pair in the classic Wayfarer style (either standard or large) or you can buy them in the new Headliner style created for this collaboration. Every frame type is compatible with a range of different lens styles for prescription to polarized, and you can customize the frames with five different colors: glossy black, matte black, transparent black, transparent turquoise, or transparent orange. Thanks to all these options, there are over 150 different combinations, so you should be able to find the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses you want.

The new specs are set to ship on October 17, with preorders live right now. The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses Collection starts at £299 (US and Australian pricing to be confirmed). If you want to pick up a pair with Transitions or Polarized lenses, this will cost you a little more, at £379 and £329 (US and Australian pricing to be confirmed) respectively.

What I thought of the RayBan Meta Smart Glasses

You can check out my full hands-on Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses Collection review for my in-depth thoughts on the new Meta x RayBan smart specs, but long story short – these glasses seem good albeit a bit niche.

Hamish wearing a black pair of Wayfarer smart glasses from Ray-Ban and Meta. He's also wearing a hat and a bag in a large modern living room.

(Image credit: Future)

Images and videos I snapped with the glasses look fine – plus the hands-free nature makes it easy to capture moments that wouldn’t suit your holding a phone in hand. I also agree with Meta that the glasses allowed me to capture a memory while also feeling more active in the moment than I might feel if I were recording on my phone.

Audio from the glasses seem solid too. I didn’t have the opportunity to hear as wide a range of tracks as I’d need to for a full assessment but my first impression is that they offer good clarity and volume, though I’m not sure the sound is as forceful as I like. As for audio leakage, this seem controlled. I had my demo at the same time as another person and when their music was on moderate loudness and mine was off, I couldn’t hear what they were playing even though I was standing fairly close.

My main concern is that the glasses feel a bit niche. Ideally, these are something you’d wear as often as possible to enjoy music wherever you are, or to capture a picture or recording of whatever impromptu moments come your way – but I’m not sure the people around me will love that I’m wearing a noticeable camera everywhere I go. 

Sure, I could carry them around in their charging case and only take them out when I need them, but then why wouldn’t I just use my phone instead – even mid-range phones have a better 50MP+ camera. 

If I need both of my hands free or I want to feel more involved in the moment, I could whip out one of the best action cameras, many of which are cheaper or only slightly more pricey than these specs. And for a similar music experience, you could pick up a pair of air-conduction headphones such as the JBL Soundgear Sense.

You can see inside these transparent orange frames, giving you a look at the internal componenst and spoeakers housed in the arm of the Ray-Ban and Meta smart glasses

(Image credit: Future)

That said, I’m admittedly not super familiar with this category of glasses. My experience is with specs like the Xreal Airs, which are focused on AR video rather than having an in-built camera. During a longer test, I imagine finding a use-case for these RayBan glasses that makes them feel less niche.

If you can already see how these glasses would suit your lifestyle then they might be a worthwhile purchase. But if you can’t think of a good use for them, maybe think twice about getting your pre-order in.

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Instagram is testing vertical Stories that work a lot like TikTok

After confirming that vertical scrolling for Stories was in development back in 2021, Instagram is starting to test the feature in select countries.

Instagram Stories is the company’s take on tapping through short stories that can last up to ten seconds, both in a photo or a video. You can add in a GIF, tag someone, add filters, and more to update your followers on what you’re doing at that moment in time.

But when you decide to go to the next or previous story, you have to tap on the left or right in certain areas of the story in order to do these actions. This could be problematic as some tags placed in a story may overlap, so you may skip a story when you wanted to tap on the tagged person or place in question.

Navigating through your Stories by swiping will alleviate this, and while there’s a good chance that its similarity to TikTok will be mentioned, it’s a much better method for everyone, especially if you primarily use Stories on Instagram.

Analysis: This will matter to heavy Stories users

While recent updates, such as the ability to post from a web browser or switching to a dark mode theme have been well-received, vertical scrolling will mean a great deal more to other users.

The company has been rolling out features to better rival TikTok in video content, such as Reels and the ability to add web links to a Story.

However, since Instagram confirmed that vertical scrolling was under development, users had been waiting to see if it would be implemented. One year on, we get confirmation that it’s at least being tested in countries such as Turkey.

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As smartphones get bigger or, foldable, having to tap on the left side of the screen to go back to a story is going to be more frustrating for users.

Swiping up or down to navigate your Stories is a much more appealing method. It’s TikTok’s main way of browsing videos in its app, and it would be a welcome change to Instagram Stories.

With a chronological feed due out soon, swiping in a Story could be the next big feature for 2022.

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Instagram to allow videos of up to 60 seconds on Stories

Instagram recently shared a social trends prediction report that provided insights on how the company perceives its target audience behaving in 2022. Possibly it was in this light that the Meta-owned video and photo sharing platform came up with some tweaks to the way users interacted with the app.  

Firstly it reverted to the chronological order of showcasing content and followed it up with a unique way of generating nostalgia among users. The latest in this series is an update that would allow users to upload videos of up to 60 seconds on their Stories. The current length happens to be just 15 seconds. 

A report in 9to5Mac quoted a post from an Instagram user Turkey to indicate that the social network app has indeed begun notifying select users about this change. At this point in time, videos going beyond 15 seconds gets automatically split into more than one post on Stories. Alternatively, the user could opt for uploading the video on to Reels and then showcasing a clip on Stories. 

What does it all mean?

“Discover longer stories. Videos up to 60 seconds will no longer be segmented,” says the message from Instagram in what appears to be a concerted effort on the part of Meta to regain users from other platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok. 

The change comes barely a couple of days after Instagram announced that users can now use the “Reels Visual Replies” feature to post responses on comments around their posts done via Reels. Users will see a new option that allows them to select the Reels button to create a video reply, which will appear as a sticker. 

Besides these changes, the report said Instagram was testing a revamped interface for posting Stories that simplifies the process of adding mentions or locations to a post. Of course, there is no information whether these changes would see the light of the day or when it would happen.

The company is also testing a revamped interface for posting Stories that will make it easier to mention other accounts or add a location to a post. It’s unclear when or if Instagram will make these changes available to all users around the world, as right now only a few users can post longer Stories.

Readers would be aware that TikTok has grown in popularity in recent times in spite of a ban in some countries with Snapchat coming up with a new standalone app for creators to edit and post videos. Thus, it is hardly surprising that Instagram is also in the fray to create innovative features that will keep its audience happy.

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