Snap's Spectacles come with an impressive pedigree

The person behind the upcoming camera-sunglasses is reportedly Steve Horowitz, a hardware veteran who has worked at Apple, Google and Motorola.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Richard Nieva
Roger Cheng
3 min read

Snap's Spectacles will come in coral, teal and black.


Snap, the company formerly known as Snapchat, is peddling sunglasses with a built-in video camera. Those Spectacles are certainly a sight to behold: big, flamboyant, colorful.

Whether you love them or hate them, you now apparently have someone to thank (or blame).

The person behind the upcoming Spectacles is mobile veteran Steve Horowitz, according to Recode.

If you're going to make a jump into hardware, you could do a lot worse than Horowitz. He was one of the original software engineers behind Google's Android software and worked on the Mac at Apple, where he started his career. Perhaps most significant to his work on Spectacles was his time at Motorola, where he was a senior vice president of engineering and worked on the Moto 360 smartwatch.

Horowitz's expertise will be critical as Snap makes the leap to wearables. The social network, whose mobile app lets people post pictures and videos that disappear after a certain length of time, is wildly popular with young adults and teenagers. But it's tough to be a social network if your name is not Facebook, and Facebook has already made a habit out of cribbing Snap's most popular features (see: Instagram Stories). Wading into hardware is a way for the 5-year-old Los Angeles company to broaden its vision.

But the hardware business requires a completely different set of skills relating to design, logistics, retail distribution and more. Even tech giants such as Google have struggled to sell products directly to consumers and have stumbled with the customer service aspect of the sales process. Snap's biggest challenge will be to convince its legion of fans to fork over $130 for a pair of sunglasses fitted out with a wireless camera.

To lead the charge, CEO Evan Spiegel apparently looked to Horowitz. He joined Snap as vice president of engineering in 2015, but the company was mum about what exactly he'd be doing.

Snap did not reply to a request for a comment and an interview with Horowitz.

Horowitz has experience in entering new arenas. He was involved with the Moto 360 at a time when smartwatches were largely considered a pet project by the tech heavyweights. The Moto 360, one of the first watches to run on Google's Android Wear software, remains the most successful Android Wear product.

While other players like Samsung were selling square or boxy-looking watches, Motorola was the first to introduce a round timepiece that actually looked like, well, a watch. The company has also used premium materials like leather and stainless steel to further set its watches apart.

Snap will have to work to avoid the failure of that other smart headgear, Google Glass. That wearable ran into intense public scrutiny over its ability to shoot photos and videos in public places, and its techie look drew a lot of scorn.

Even back at the Moto 360 launch, Horowitz had a strong sense of how a wearable should work in the real world.

"The whole wearables space is about having to think about the environment first, that the device is going to live in, and the context in which you're going to use it," Horowitz said in an interview with SlashGear in 2014. "You can't think purely functional, that's really important."

Watch this: Watch out, GoPro: Snapchat Spectacles could succeed where Google Glass failed