On Tuesday, on the one-year anniversary of the announcement of its AR Camera platform, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg revealed at the company's F8 developers conference that the platform will be extended to the company's Instagram and Messenger apps.
Users of the Instagram app on iOS and Android will be able dress up their photos and video with AR effects and share their creations as Stories. Moreover, their followers can tap a button to use the effect for themselves.
According to an announcement regarding the feature, Ariana Grande, Baby Ariel, Liza Koshy, Vogue, and Buzzfeed will release their own, custom Instagram AR effects soon.
In addition, the company is giving brands the opportunity to offer AR camera effects through the Messenger app for iOS and Android. Advertising partners can build virtual try-on and product previews as well as AR experiences to engage consumers. The platform is launching as a closed beta, with Asus, KIA, Nike, and Sephora getting the first cracks at the tools.
The company demoed Nike's AR experience during the keynote presentation. Messenger users will be able to text Nike's SNKRS page view a virtual sneaker and use a special emoji code to unlock a chance to buy a limited edition pair of Kyrie IV sneakers.
"Until now, brands could use automation to connect one on one with people using bots for Messenger or to add value to group conversations using chat extensions," said Aidymar Bigio, director of engineering for Messenger, in a blog post. "AR effects are the next step in this evolution, allowing brands to build compelling, utilitarian visual experiences for their customers while driving tangible business results at scale with a built-in audience of 1.3 billion people. And what's more, businesses can build their experiences on top of our AR Platform without having to invest in a bespoke infrastructure."
Finally, the company also announced that Facebook users will soon be able to view 3D objects from their News Feed as Camera AR experiences with a single tap. Facebook had previously announced the ability to view 3D objects in the News Feed, with 3D content from Jurassic World included as one of the examples of the AR capabilities.
Facebook has been replicating most of Snapchat's AR features over the past year, starting with face filters for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. More recently, Facebook has introduced an AR paint feature and image recognition capabilities for brands.
Instagram, which has already challenged Snapchat with its own Stories feature, can now offer similar AR experiences. Meanwhile, AR experiences for brands on Messenger further divides the pie for AR advertising that Snapchat is feverishly pursuing.
While Google continues to pursue Apple in terms of AR mobile apps, Facebook is intent on going after Snapchat's bread and butter in hopes of becoming the leading platform for social AR and sponsored AR experiences. Ultimately, end users will benefit as the competitors continue to push each other to innovate in the AR space.