Almost eight months after announcing their coming AR Studio, which will enable all creators to build their own augmented reality experiences within Facebook’s systems, The Social Network has today announced that it’s finally bringing AR Studio out of closed beta, and providing access to all.
AR Studio will provide creators with a range of tools with which to build their own augmented reality experiences, with the Facebook Camera being the primary delivery device for such creations (you can see a full video on how AR Studio works here).
Using the tools provided, Facebook makes it easy – or as easy as possible – for users to build their own AR experiences, which they can then share via the Facebook Camera.
And thus far, Facebook’s seen solid response:
“Since launching in closed beta at F8, we've seen a strong response from the 2,000+ creators using AR Studio – building fun, animated frames, masks, and interactive AR experiences. We've been working hard to give them even more powerful tools, and open them up to more people.”
By opening up their AR tools to more creators, Facebook’s expanding their potential to tap into the next big thing in AR. One of the challenges Facebook seems to have faced thus far is that Snapchat is more in tune with their audience, and have been able to create more interesting, innovative AR products, which Facebook has largely duplicated. But by handing the reigns to creators, Facebook could see more engaging AR options coming to their platform instead.
Of course, that also depends on people using the Facebook Camera to activate them, which, thus far, hasn’t been hugely popular. But still, with the tools and options provided, Facebook’s doing all it can to encourage more use.
Adding to this, Facebook’s also rolling out new World Effects for Messenger, which will be another tool added to AR Studio.
“World Effects technology enables you to drop 3D objects into your surroundings to capture and share fun moments with your family and friends. For example, add a 3D heart floating over someone's head and then try panning your phone's camera from side to side. Or use an arrow to point to an exact object or location in a panorama so your friend knows what you're referring to. Or better yet, add a new fun, celebratory robot to an otherwise every-day setting and spice things up a bit.”
If this sounds familiar, that’s because Snapchat released their World Lenses last November, which are essentially the same thing. Snapchat recently sought to up the ante with the tool, via their new art installations project, but now, Facebook’s once again breathing down their neck.
AR Studio looks set to play a key role in Facebook’s challenge to Snapchat. As noted, Snapchat has thus far been able to win out by being faster, more innovative, and launching trendy new tools first. But with AR Studio, Facebook’s expanding their capacity to beat them out, and add even more tools before Snap is able. If it works, Facebook will push their position to the forefront of the AR shift, helping transition to the next level of tools and options.
And even if it’s not a huge success, it’ll still bring more options to Facebook, and more interest in their AR offerings.