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How to use Snapchat’s new augmented reality 3D world lenses

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NewsHubWhat’s better than a few geofilters? A billion algorithmically generated filters. That’s Facebook Messenger’s strategy to steal the visual communication crown from Snapchat, thanks to its new camera feature that rolls out today. Well, actually, “a billion” is selling it short.
Messenger’s camera can make an infinite number of overlaid graphics to jazz up your photos and videos. It takes anything you type, and then programmatically spawns art that blows up those words in goofy fonts that you can splash atop your imagery. If Messenger recognizes the meaning of your text in any of 15 different popular languages, it will even offer up filters with related art.
Plus, it’s got augmented reality selfie lenses, holiday-themed masks, props to paste on, Prisma-esque style transfers, influencer-suggested filters, and art that helps you tell friends what you’re doing or ask them to hang out. This camera is a swipe away or tap away at all times, living a layer beneath the rest of Messenger.
“A lot more conversations are starting from photos”, Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus tells me. Around 10%, in fact. “We wanted to make sure we could be a first-class citizen when it comes to visual messaging, and naturally for that you need a good camera.”
2.5 billion photos, videos, emoji, and stickers are already sent each day on Messenger. Now that emergent behavior is getting the product support it deserves. The new features are rolling out to all users today and tomorrow on iOS and Android , and the holiday effects should be available for everyone by December 21st.
TechCrunch got a deep look inside the creation of the new Messenger camera, speaking with execs and artists to learn why and how the texting app is redefining itself in the age of chat via images.
For a social network that’s really just a skeleton brought to life by the media its users share, Facebook has always had a penchant for art. As I walk the immense length of Facebook’s 430,000 square foot new Menlo Park office building, it’s hard not to stop and gawk at the posters. Facebook’s Analog Research Lab screen printing room churns out motivational banners with wild colors and bold text.
Now Facebook is bringing that flare inside Messenger. “At first we didn’t have any art so we had to work to assemble an art team” Marcus explains. They were tasked with turning the most commonly expressed feelings, activities, and questions into images people could stick on their Messenger photos. And not just in English.
“We work with creators all over the world for people all over the world” says Jennifer Whitley, Messenger’s Creative Director. “One-third of our library is created for specific regions and demographics.” Both social media influencers and local graphic designers were recruited to give Messenger a diversity of iconography.
That comes with risks, though. Snapchat was criticized for offering a “yellowface” selfie filter that looked like an Asian stereotype. Whitley tells me that when Messenger’s team made art for countries like Thailand, “we vet that and get that reviewed by people who speak the language.

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