At last year’s Facebook F8 developer conference, the main focus was on AR, with the announcement of their Camera Effects Platform - including AR studio - and a range of new tools which would enable third parties to create their own digitally enhanced experiences via the Facebook Camera.
This time around, AR remains firmly on Facebook’s agenda, with a set of new tools designed to enhance the Facebook Camera experience, particularly via Stories – which, according to Facebook’s Chris Cox, are set to surpass the News Feed as the primary way to share content on social some time this year.
Tapping into this, Facebook has detailed a range of AR and Stories tools - here’s what’s been announced:
Share to Stories
In order to make it easier for users to share their experiences via Stories, both Facebook and Instagram will soon enable third-party integrations, which will give users the capacity to share content to Stories direct from partner apps.
As explained by Instagram:
“Just tap the share button in the Spotify or GoPro app and your content is pulled directly into the Instagram camera. From there you can edit and add to your story or send it via Direct. You don’t have to connect your Instagram account to other apps in order to share to Stories.”
The functionality will enable users to easily add playlists, video and other content direct to their Stories, with various platforms including Spotify, GoPro, SoundCloud and Musically already signed up.
As you can see in the above example, viewers will also be able to interact with the content on the platform from which it originates – here, you can see an option to play the audio on Spotify, direct from the Stories screen.
As noted by TechCrunch, the approach differs from Snapchat, which has shunned third-party partnerships, preferring to keep all Snap creation within the app. By adding in third-party connection, Facebook will be able to provide more options for partners, further enhancing the Stories experiences they can offer.
New AR Studio Tools
Facebook’s also adding in new options to make it easier for anyone to create their own AR experiences – even if you’re not a programmer or digital designer.
They’re also rolling out a new partnership with Sketchfab, which will provide users with a library of downloadable models within AR Studio that you'll then be able to add to your projects.
As with Messenger bots, the key to maximizing usage - and likely take-up - is in simplification, making the tools more readily available, and useable, for all. AR models can be especially complex, but these new options move closer to simplifying the functions, and opening them up to more users.
More AR Options
In addition to this, Facebook’s also adding more AR tools to enhance your experiences:
- Tracking: Use AR Target Tracker, Body Tracking, Hand Tracking, High-Fidelity Face Tracking, and more to follow movement and tie it to your experience
- Patch Editor: Control audio, manipulate materials, add interactions, and even create your own shaders without writing a single line of code
- Free-to-use assets: Add ready-made sound files from Facebook’s free library and 3D models through our partnership with Sketchfab
- Background Segmentation: Separate people from their background, create experiences that transport people to different places
- Location AR: Tie your AR effects to places in the real world, making pre-determined experiences available when people get to a certain location
- Semantic Scene Understanding: Create experiences that are contextually aware, like having heat waves rise up when a coffee cup is recognized in the scene
- Analytics for AR effects published by Facebook Pages (coming soon): Track the reach and engagement of your Page's published AR experience by measuring impressions, captures, and shares
- 3D Posts in Camera: Take a 3D post from News Feed and experience it in your world with Facebook Camera on your mobile device
Background segmentation, in particular, looks interesting – through this, you can create AR experiences which overlay full backgrounds without the use of green screen.
Facebook’s also expanding the usage of Facebook Camera effects beyond the app itself.
“Soon, you’ll be able to distribute your content to more people across new surfaces including Instagram, Messenger and Facebook Lite. This experience is launching now in closed beta on Instagram and Messenger, and coming soon for everyone using Facebook Lite. With these new surfaces, you can connect with a larger audience and share your experiences with people around the world – wherever they are.”
Just as Facebook has integrated Messenger Day and Facebook Stories, you may soon be able to cross-post all the various types of Facebook and Instagram Stories option to each surface, and within feeds.
Facebook’s been busy building their next level AR effects, including new, image-triggered AR–enabled ads and other experiences. By pushing further ahead, The Social Network continues to maintain pressure on Snapchat, while also enhancing their position with entertaining new features which will no doubt prove popular, and help to herald in the next stage of digital connection.