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Snapchat Rolls Out New AR Features, But Wait…So Does Facebook

The saga continues

Snapchat has rolled out a new feature on its platform, World Lenses. The feature is similar to its already popular filters, with one key differentiator—augmented reality (AR).

On the heels of that announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at Facebook’s F8 conference and spoke about the future of AR, and the steps his company is taking. He then introduced an AR platform that will soon be available within Facebook’s Camera feature on smartphones.

Surprising? Not really.

It’s not like one company has dibs on which technology they’ll be using. And AR has been booming worldwide.

But there are certainly ongoing similarities.

Over the past few months, Snapchat has seen a growing threat: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all copied Stories, its signature offering.

Snapchat was likely looking to differentiate itself once again with World Lenses. And ultimately, the ability for users to create unique and fun content has been a powerful driver behind the rapid adoption of Snapchat.

Via the new feature, while snapping with the rear-facing camera, users can tap the camera screen to find the new 3D lenses.

“Users will likely spend even more time figuring out ways to not only apply but also interact with a lens they’ll see through their camera,” said eMarketer principal analyst Cathy Boyle. “Experimentation with lenses has led to greater time spent using Snapchat, and I expect the new version of World Lenses will do the same.”

Primary Objective of Recommending Virtual & Augmented Reality Ads for Campaigns According to US Agency Executives, Feb 2017 (% of respondents)

Facebook’s AR efforts have not gone into full effect yet—the product is still in beta.

Facebook is relying on developers to supply AR filters to its new Camera Effects platform, which may eventually show up in Facebook Stories.

Hear more about Facebook's AR initiatives, as well as other features that were on the agenda at Facebook's annual developers' conference in eMarketer's latest episode of "Behind the Numbers."

“With its competitors copying many of Snapchat’s core features, it is imperative for the company to keep innovating, and launching new ways for users to create unique content and share it in ways that they can’t do elsewhere,” Boyle said.

“Failure in this regard is not an option, as it is the core driver behind audience growth and engagement—the foundation from which Snapchat can build a bigger advertising business,” she said.

Rimma Kats

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