A recent update to Facebook's News Feed could significantly broaden its reach when it comes to delivering augmented reality content.
Facebook introduced the ability to add 3D posts last October. By adopting this fairly standard and open file format, it will now be much easier to share 3D content among the social media giant's over 2 billion users.
To show off the News Feed's augmented reality capabilities, Universal Pictures shared a 3D animation of Blue, the velociraptor from Jurassic World. Facebook users can view the dinosaur in their News Feed, or they can connect to the Camera feature in the Facebook app for iOS or Android to place the beast in their physical environment.
In addition to end users, Facebook is also making it easier for developers to share 3D content. The company is making available new Graph API endpoints with 3D post support, giving developers the ability to make 3D content shareable from their apps. With this API, sharing 3D content from any app to Facebook could become as commonplace as sharing photos or video.
Sony Xperia XZ1 owners will be among the first to take advantage of this new capability, as Sony is implementing the feature in its 3D Creator app for the device. From desktops, users can share from Oculus Medium, with support for Google Poly coming soon.
The moves give Facebook a stronger advantage over Snapchat in making AR content discoverable. Both platforms have mobile apps with AR-enabled cameras and software with which developers can build their own AR experiences. But the ability to display AR content via the News Feed gives Facebook an additional AR content feature to use to compete with Snapchat.
"It also opens the door for a future where people can bring interesting objects and experiences with them across AR, VR, mobile, and web," wrote Aykud Gönen, Facebook product manager, in the blog post, "whether it's your favorite game and movie characters, architectural models or museum artifacts, all the way to fully interactive scenes."