Instagram is once again following the lead of Snapchat by opening up its Spark AR filter creation platform to all users, while also introducing a new library of user-created visual tools.
As explained on the Facebook Developer blog:
"Starting today, anyone can create and publish their own Spark AR effects on Instagram. We’re also introducing the new Effect Gallery, which will include niche AR effects from up-and-coming artists, making it easier for people to discover unique effects from the creator community."
To discover new effects, users will now find a new “Browse Effects” option at the end of the effects tray in the Instagram Camera, which will take you to the library of audience-originated visual tools.
The option will provide a whole heap of new tools for Instagram users, expanding on the capacity of its visual offerings, without Instagram itself having to rely on its internal designers.
And that can have significant benefits.
As noted, Snapchat has enabled all users to create their own face altering effects in its Lens Studio since early 2018, which has lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of different visual options that users can discover within the app.
In fact, within the first year of enabling users to build their own AR effects, Snap says that more than 250,000 individual Lenses were submitted, which were collectively viewed more than 15 billion times.
It's actually become more than just an engaging addition for some - a growing number of people are now using Snap's Lens Studio to become full-time Lens creators, working with brands to build dedicated Snap campaigns. According to CNN, official Lens creators on Snapchat charge a minimum of $1,000 for a sponsored lens, while more complex work can cost up to $30,000 per job.
For Snap itself, that also enables it to provide more creative options for users, a key element in growing its app.
Earlier this year, Snapchat saw a huge surge in downloads on the back of the viral popularity of its 'Baby' and 'Gender Swap' Lenses.
Snap itself has noted that these Lenses alone resulted in an adding around 9 million users, fueling its overall increase of 13 million users for the most recent reporting period. Those Lenses, it is worth noting, were not user-created, but the numbers underline the potential of creative tools like this for boosting engagement.
Now Instagram will look to the same - and you can bet that, with more users and broader popularity, you'll see a range of top creators moving across to Insta to expand their business.
That will only help Instagram further build upon its options. As such, it makes perfect sense for Instagram to open up access, and allow more creative capacity within its tools.