For social media platforms like Facebook, augmented reality represents a whole new art form with which users can express themselves online. Now, Facebook is giving those users a new brush.
A new AR painting tool for Facebook Camera, which began rolling out to users on Monday, leaves virtual trails that continually pulse and change colors. Not surprisingly, the creations can be captured in photos and video, and shared via Facebook and its Stories feature.
"We wanted to give people an easy way to create with augmented reality and draw in the world around them," said John Barnett, product manager for Facebook Camera, via statement provided to Next Reality.
According to a company spokesperson, users can draw in AR both before and during video capture. Facebook has also conducted research to figure out which brushes and tools users might prefer, and the company will release more painting options in the next few months. In addition, the company told TechCrunch that the technology can detect surfaces and objects, and draw on and around them.
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, among others, have enabled users to draw on their photos for a while now, but the emergence of ARKit and ARCore for mobile AR development has spawned a number of apps that let users spray paint their world like virtual graffiti artists. In fact, the code for Google's Just a Line has been made open source, which will enable even more developers to offer their own versions.
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It would stand to reason that the social platforms would introduce similar AR functionality to enable creativity among its users, and now it seems as though Facebook is leading the way. Or is it?
Coincidentally, developer Andrew Mendez recently shared his own Snapchat painting tool, which he created using Lens Studio, via Twitter last week. The paint feature gives users a pallet of colors and various brushes and shapes (including a poop emoji) to work with. Similarly, an ARKit-powered drawing tool called A.R.tist, created by one of the youngest AR developers we've ever encountered, allows users to decorate reality with basic, multicolored lines.
Nevertheless, while Facebook sometimes finds itself mirroring what others have already done, particularly with AR, increasingly, the company is moving faster than most to build up its app arsenal in the growing AR arms race.