Get ready to see a lot of new augmented reality effects in Instagram.
The photo-sharing app is now prominently featuring user-generated AR selfie filters in a move that seems like a direct challenge to Snapchat’s Lenses.
Instagram has been testing its AR creation software, called Spark AR Studio, for some time, but now it’s making it more widely available. And, to mark the occasion, it’s showing off users’ creations in the app.
You can check them out from the Instagram camera by scrolling all the way to the end and selecting “browse more effects.”
As with Snapchat’s Lens Studio software, Spark AR Studio appears aimed at creative professionals who have some experience with similar software, though Instagram is encouraging artists of all stripes to try it out.
For users, the expansion of Spark AR should bring some much-needed new content to Instagram’s AR toolkit. Instead of the same old cat ears and Superzoom filters, you can check out dozens of new (and often weird) effects.
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It will also help instagram challenge Snapchat’s more established user-generated Lens platform. Snap has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to users’ creativity as a key differentiator from competitors. And Snapchat’s viral filters have helped the service grow.
Instagram, of course, has more than 1 billion users already, and doesn’t necessarily need better AR in order to drive growth. But the company clearly wants to send a message that it can be just as much of a home for artists as Snapchat.