At this point, it’s probably no overstatement to say that Facebook is obsessed with Snapchat — or at least with the idea of copying Snapchat’s every move. We’ve seen it on two of the social networking giant’s now-defunct standalone apps, Poke and Slingshot, and on the Stories feature of its immensely popular photo and video sharing app, Instagram. And now, more instances of Snapchat cloning have emerged, this time in Facebook’s main app.
Trick or treat
In time for Halloween, Facebook has updated its main iOS app with a couple of new features.
First, there’s the new set of Halloween-themed reactions that you can choose from in addition to the standard “Like” and “Love” reactions. These include a cackling witch for “Haha,” a mouth-agape ghost for “Wow,” a teary-eyed Frankenstein’s monster for “Sad,” and a grimacing jack-o’-lantern for “Angry.” Just hold down the Like button to see and choose from the reactions.
But no doubt the more interesting new feature in the Facebook app is the introduction of masks for video in Facebook Live, which happen to be Halloween-themed, including a skull, an evil queen, a pumpkin, and a witch. To use a mask during a Live video, tap the magic wand at the upper left corner of the screen and select the icon for your preferred mask in the bottom tray. Looks and sounds familiar, eh?
Masks will be rolling out over the next few days for people using Facebook Live on iOS in the U.S., the U.K., and New Zealand.
Apparently, the introduction of Halloween-themed masks in the Facebook app is just a taste of more Snapchat-like things to come.
As reported by Recode, Facebook has begun testing a new camera and messaging feature that includes masks, filters, and other augmented-reality effects to be used in videos that may be shared publicly or sent to friends. And as if that weren’t Snapchat-like enough, the shared videos are set to disappear after 24 hours, that is, unless the recipients start or continue conversing about it.
The technology used in this new feature is derived from MSQRD, which Facebook acquired in March
But instead of having it deployed in a new standalone app or in the Facebook Messenger app, Facebook is integrating this feature into the main app itself, with its own dedicated inbox for shared filtered or otherwise enhanced videos. This means that when it’s officially rolled out, it will be made available to the app’s 1.7 billion users — a prospect that could deal a crushing blow on Snapchat’s dominance of the ephemeral messaging space.
The new camera and messaging feature is being tested only in Ireland. If you’re a Facebook user in that country, you may already be able to access the new camera by swiping right on the Facebook app’s home screen.
It probably won’t be long before we get to see if Facebook’s latest big stab at replicating Snapchat’s success does well enough in its testing phase to be officially released in the Facebook app.
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