It seems this week’s addition of Halloween-themed masks to Facebook Live was just the beginning Zuckerberg & Co.’s “borrowing” from Snapchat — actually, I guess Instagram Stories was the first step, but who’s counting? Now the blue social network behemoth is moving on to Snapchat’s main features: camera filters and effects within its main app, along with disappearing messages.
The new camera features within the Facebook app are still in testing and currently limited to users in Ireland, but they essentially work just like Snapchat’s. Users can apply various photo effects and masks to both videos and still photos, and then share them to their Feed; if they don’t receive any comments, the photos vanish after 24 hours.
The other small change is relocating the camera icon to the upper-left of the app, with the hope that users will find it easier to access and open it more often.
This move shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the writing’s been on the wall for some time. After Snapchat declined Facebook’s acquisition offer several years ago, the latter has been gradually developing its own take on the former’s features, or outright buying startups that offer the same technology. This includes the purchase of MSQRD back in March, which now powers Facebook’s facial recognition and effects.
Before now, Facebook’s experiments with these features have been limited to its Live video service, such as applying country flag colors as face paint during the Rio Olympics, and this week’s Halloween masks. But this marks the first time such features have been incorporated into the core app’s camera. Should they move beyond the current testing and rollout for all users, most of what Snapchat offers will be available within Facebook.