Meta Connects WhatsApp to Ray-Ban Stories Smart Glasses
Meta has augmented the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses with WhatsApp calling and messaging commands as revealed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. Zuckerberg announced that Stories’ wearers can now hear and respond to WhatsApp messages and make phone calls through the platform using the Facebook voice assistant, matching the wearables’ Facebook Messenger controls. He also shared plans to add voice commands for replying to messages on both platforms. both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger messages.
The new communications options work by asking the Facebook voice assistant. Saying, “Hey Facebook, call (or send a message to) Eric,” will begin the phone call or compose a text message. When a WhatsApp message comes in, the glasses will inform the wearer and offer to read the message to them. It’s only the direct response by voice command that is still under development, though the command, “Hey Facebook, reply” is already public. WhatsApp messages retain their end-to-end encryption even with the glasses connection and the audio and transcript of the voice assistant reading the message are not saved. There’s no change to how the smart glasses are paired with the Facebook View app for recording videos and pictures or the $300 initial price tag, however.
The integration fits with Meta’s interest in tying the smart glasses to all of its platforms as well as Zuckerberg’s continued interest in the Ray-Ban Stories. It’s notable that upgrades and new features for the smart glasses seem mainly to come directly from Zuckerberg’s Facebook posts instead of official announcements by Meta or Ray-Ban. The same thing happened earlier this year when Zuckerberg shared that the smart glasses were getting augmented reality (AR) transition lenses, doubling video recording time to 60 seconds, adding French and Italian, and shipping to four new European countries. WhatsApp and Messenger support for the new languages on Stories is also in the works.
Marketing for the smart glasses seems somewhat muted compared to other products and features trumpeted by the company. That could reflect how Meta’s priorities have shifted away from augmented reality in favor of the metaverse, according to The Information. The Nazare AR smart glasses Meta introduced last year for a 2024 release have been reduced to a demonstration product in favor of the next version of AR glasses known as Artemis. Google’s Iris smart glasses may be the only major smart glasses release in 2024.