While the Stories format doesn't appear to be catching on among Facebook users the way it has with those using it in Instagram or WhatsApp, the Facebook Camera is where The Social Network is looking to push its new augmented reality tools and features. And as such, Facebook continues to add more tools and options into the camera, with the latest additions announced his week including live-streaming, GIF creation, as well as a range of new visual effects.
Here's what's being added.
As highlighted by The Next Web's Matt Navarra last month, Facebook has confirmed that they're adding the capacity to create live-streams within the Facebook Camera, with a new indicator appearing on your Facebook Story.
The option to go live is included on the top bar of your Facebook Camera screen (along with additional new tools like GIF creation and text-based updates).
The capacity to live-stream from your Facebook Camera may not add a heap, functionally, but having a 'Live' indicator on your Stories image - displayed prominently at the top of your followers' News Feeds - could provide more incentive for people to use it to broaden their reach. And worth noting, under this new process, whenever you do go live from within the Facebook Camera, you'll get the double boost of a 'Live' indicator on your Stories bubble and a post within the News Feed (seen in the last image here).
This added exposure could become even more relevant as Facebook rolls out Live to desktop, and, most likely, to Pages in the near future. Worth noting too, Facebook also recently added the capacity for people to make their Stories public, so Facebook does have options to make this a significantly more prominent option, if they choose.
Right now, Facebook Stories doesn't appear to be a popular option, but smaller changes like these could up its relevance, and fast, if Facebook were to go down that path.
Facebook has also confirmed that users in Facebook's Camera will now also be able to create their own, two-second GIFs to be shared in Stories or on Facebook, another feature which had been in testing.
Providing capacity for people to create their own GIFs seems like a no-brainer for Facebook given the format's popularity. The platform's had a mixed relationship with GIFs, and has only recently started supporting them, enabling users to add GIFs in comments in June, while posting GIFs natively (as opposed to via third party links) was also rolled out in July. Facebook also started allowing GIFs in ads back in February.
Giving users the ability to create their own GIFs could be a winner for Facebook, providing new creative options and fully tapping into the rising popularity of the option.
And if you need more assurance on the popularity of GIFs, GIF-based platform Giphy recently reported that it currently serves more than 200 million daily active users.
New Visual Effects
In addition to these new tools, Facebook's also adding new visual effects - the 'Text' option as highlighted in the Camera top bar tools is actually Facebook's full-screen text posts, which have been available on the main platform for some time, and can now also be created through the Camera, again for use in the News Feed or Stories.
Similar functionality is available in Instagram Stories, and can definitely add more to your Stories' context and flow. Really, in this context, their only application is within Stories, so its popularity will relate to the wider adoption of the tool, which remains to be seen.
As noted, while Facebook Stories hasn't taken off, Facebook, with its development of new AR tools, could look to use the tool as a testing ground for their next level camera features, which may, in-turn, make it a more relevant option. And given the prominence of Stories placement, and the expansion of the tool in various ways, it may well become a more significant consideration in the near future.
Right now, maybe none of your friends use it, maybe you see it as an annoyance, a reminder that Facebook doesn't always win. But as development continues, perceptions could change.