Instagram did it again, but if you are wondering whether this means the photo-sharing social network has hit another major milestone, then you are wrong. The Facebook-owned platform has again copied a popular feature that belongs to rival Snapchat.
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On Tuesday, Instagram announced several new features, including face filters which are similar to something Snapchat debuted about 19 months ago. Such filters can turn users into puking rainbow faces and puppies.
The Facebook-owned company is currently offering eight filters, including hats like tiaras and furry koala ears. As with Snapchat, some of Instagram’s filters also work with a second person in the frame, notes CNN. To access the new feature, users will have to swipe into the camera and then select a new face icon in the bottom right-hand corner.
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In 2016, the social networking giant acquired the app MSQRD to develop these virtual face filters. Such filters, which are already available in Facebook’s main app, were being tested by Instagram internally for the last few months, says Business Insider, citing a person familiar with the matter.
It seems unlikely that Instagram’s new filters will pull users away from Snapchat, but that is not the only thing that Facebook wants. Its main aim probably is to weaken Snapchat’s growth prospects.
“Copying Snapchat’s best features probably won’t convert many 16-year-olds from Snapchat to Instagram, for example, but it also won’t give many 30-year-olds a reason to try Snapchat, either,” says Recode.
Will Facebook continue to do so?
According to TechCrunch, the face filters are the last major Snapchat feature that was not offered by Instagram… until now. The Facebook-owned service has already copied Snaps’ overlaid creative tools, slideshow sharing format, disappearing direct messages, and more.
Facebook first showed off its copycat abilities in August when it released Instagram Stories. This feature was a clone of Snapchat’s photo and video posts, which are shared by users and disappear after 24 hours. Later, the social networking giant also introduced similar features on Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp.
Facebook’s repeated copying of Snapchat’s popular features is one big reason why the photo-sharing app is struggling to accelerate its growth. In the last quarter of 2016, the app added just 5 million daily active users, a drop from the minimum of 10 million gained in each of the previous four quarters, notes CNN. In the most recent quarter, Snap (the parent company of Snapchat) reported 166 million daily active users, up just 8 million from the last quarter. In comparison, Instagram Stories enjoys more than 200 million daily active users, which is more than Snapchat’s total daily users.
In response to Facebook’s copycat attitude, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said during an earnings call with analysts last week, “If you want to be a creative company, you have got to be comfortable with and basically enjoy the fact that people copy your stuff.”
It won’t be a surprise if Facebook continues to copy more camera features from the outside. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already made it clear that camera tools will be the focus this year as they will support the social media firm’s augmented reality ambitions.