Instagram has added a more subtle and mature but error-prone copycat of Snapchat’s beloved augmented reality selfie filters. The eight initial “face filters” as Instagram calls them work exactly like Snapchat and let you add virtual koala ears, nerd glasses, a butterfly crown, or wrinkle-smooth makeup to yourself and friends in photos or videos.
these new features are easier to use and don’t distort your face as much, but don’t track your movements and stay properly positioned on you face as well as Snapchat’s.
The face filters are the last major Snapchat Stories feature missing from Instagram after it cloned Snap’s slideshow sharing format, overlaid creative tools, disappearing Direct messages, and more.
Without a compelling reason for new users to pick the original Snapchat Stories over the Instagram Stories clone. Instagram could add thereby widen the gap by adding to its 200 million daily Stories users that already outnumber Snapchat’s 166 million total users, and further slow down Snap’s growth rate that led it to lose 25% of its share price value after it announced weak earnings last week.
Face filters and three more features roll out to all users today via an iOS and Android app update. An eraser tool will let you remove drawings you added to an image, though it can’t ‘Photoshop’ out objects from the original image like Snapchat’s Magic Eraser.
The most original new Instagram feature is the ability to type a hashtag and add it to your Stories posts as a sticker just like a location sticker. When viewers tap on these stickers, they’ll be taken to the Instagram hashtag page showing other public, permanent posts with that hashtag.
Eventually, though, you could imagine the ability to search Stories by hashtag, or watch a ‘Hashtag Story’ compiled from all the publicly visible Stories with that label.
“There’s a lot of exciting work being done around augmented reality” an Instagram spokesperson said when asked about the app copying Snapchat’s face filters. “We’ve heard from our community that they want more creative ways to share everyday moments and engage with friends. With face filters, they have more tools than ever at their fingertips, and all in one place.”
While that’s dodges the question a bit, the last part is revealing. Instagram wants to be the one-stop shop for visual communication, no matter your age.
Instagram’s spin on Snapchat’s selfie masks is designed to make them simple and less wacky so they appeal to users beyond teens. If you’re not into Stories, you can also use Face Filters with Instagram Direct and Boomerang, as well as images you might want to post to the main feed.
Instead of needing to know you tap on the screen to activate face filters like in Snapchat, Instagram steals that access point so it’s intuitive for veteran mask users, but also adds a Smiley button to reveal the tray of 8 filters along the bottom of the screen.
But referring to the AR startup Facebook acquired last year, they noted that “The underlying technology uses MSQRD’s imaging technology and proprietary technology from Facebook’s applied machine learning teams.”
Instagram woudn’t share whether the available filters will expand, rotate, or come and go, but they did say “we’ll be bringing more face filters to the community on a regular basis.” uccessfully cloned, the smaller things left include adding 3D augmented reality objects to the world around you.
Now things should get more interesting as Instagram will have to do more innovating since it’s run out of stuff to copy.