Friday, December 30, 2016

Facebook Takes Aim At Snapchat

Facebook and Snapchat
Facebook is taking aim at Snapchat, again, with a huge update to its Messenger app. The latest addition to the 1 billion-member strong messaging service includes big changes to its Camera feature including masks, effects, stickers and frames that liven up photos and videos.

Available now, the update is meant to give Messenger’s users a greater reason to use the service’s Camera option, which currently only allows users to take regular photos and videos. That stands in stark contrast to Snapchat, which lets users add Filters and special lenses that can encircle head in a ring of virtual flowers or put the face in a digital toilet that flushes when they open their mouth.

Messenger’s photos, though, don’t self-destruct like Snapchat’s do. There’s also a disturbing lack of toilet-related effects.

To use Messenger’s new Camera, users simply open the app and tap the Camera button. The launch is timed specifically for the holidays, so Facebook is adding a special holiday-themed Camera button to Messenger to make finding it a bit easier.

Once users open Camera, they will be able to add what Facebook calls "Masks and Effects," which are more or less equivalent to Snapchat’s lenses.

The feature lets users do things like add a virtual candy cane hat and glasses to video or photo that lets them blow out snow when they open their mouth. There's also a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer filter that turns users into the titular character and an effect that makes the snap look like a scene from A-Ha’s "Take on Me" video.

Masks, meanwhile, cover the entire face and can turn it into things like a panda. In addition to Masks and Effects, Camera also gets Stickers and Frames, which let users add fun features that can turn their photo into a snowy holiday scene or make it look like they are in Vincent van Gogh’s "Starry Night."

Snapchat is an enormous social network. It’s expected to have its IPO in 2017 at a US$ 25 billion valuation and its new Spectacles glasses that let users record video from their perspective only add to the company’s coolness factor.

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