First off, Facebook's adding new music responsive functionality for Instagram effects, which enables the creation of digital overlays that change in time with audio cues.
As explained by Spark:
"Creators can now easily build AR effects that respond to music. To do this, you can import and use your own legally licensed music files or you can let people pick a song they like from the thousands of free tracks in Instagram’s music library. This feature is available for Android users today and will be coming to iOS soon."
Facebook recently clarified its rules around the use of music in posts and Stories, and as noted here, creators will need to refer to its Sound Collection for source tracks, but it could provide a range of new creative possibilities for Stories content - which you can imagine could prove popular, and bring more people to the app.
Spark has provided a full overview of how to utilize music in AR effects here.
In addition to this, Facebook's also added a new option to build AR effects which alter existing photos and videos.
View this post on Instagram
@bloo.mi ???? Follow for Flower Power filter/effect: @chrispelk Wanna create with my effects/filters ✨ Follow me and they will appear between your camera effects. #flower #power #new #media #art #effects #effect #filter #filters #lens #ar #augmentedreality #sparkar #sparkarcreators #filterfun #chrispelk #funwithfilters #filtersfordays #viral #follow #me #artist #artistsoninstagram #analogart #digitalart #psychedelicart
This is an example of the type of the functionality that's being made available within Spark's AR options, based on the 'Flower Power' effect created by Chris Pelk. With these tools, you'll be able to use content either captured via the Instagram camera, or within your camera roll, as the source for more immersive digital effects.
A particularly interesting note here that Spark is utilizing the existing work of AR creators to add new functionality to its platform, which expands its potential to tap into new trends and options.
It's also adding a new, TikTok-like green screen option.
TikTok's popular Green Screen effect is making it's way to Instagram Stories too!— taylor loren✨ (@taylrn) May 27, 2020
Here's the new "Gallery Picker" for SparkAR: pic.twitter.com/Tr5fgZ6oxK
As per Facebook:
"Gallery Picker lets creators publish AR effects to Instagram that people can then personalize with their own images, enabling green screen-style effects. With this new capability, people can transport themselves into any environment and place they want."
The green screen option has proved popular with TikTok creators, and given that everyone steals from everyone these days, it's no surprise to see Facebook looking to add similar.
In addition to these new features, Facebook has also added new templates for 2D and 3D stickers, making it easier to create digital sticker effects, while it's also launched new 'Effect Stories' on Instagram for accounts that have published effects. Effects Stories are showcase how people are using your AR creations, with collections of up to 25 Stories from Instagram users that have added your effect.
AR tools continue to be key to Stories engagement, and have seen significant increases in usage amid the COVID-19 lockdowns. These new options from Facebook provide more opportunity to utilize AR in creative ways, which could help Facebook tap into new trends, and bring more users to its apps.
For businesses, Spark's AR tools could also provide new potential for engagement. It takes some learning to understand how the platform works, and how to create a standout AR effect, but given the engagement they can generate, it could be worth the effort.
You can read more about the latest Spark AR updates here.