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article imageInstagram launches face filters, the last big Snapchat feature

By James Walker     May 16, 2017 in Technology
Instagram is rolling out support for face filters, an augmented reality feature that lets you overlay your selfies with masks and props. Predictably, the implementation strays little from Snapchat's original, completing Instagram's clone of its rival.
Over the past few months, Instagram has stolen all of Snapchat's major features, including Stories and ephemeral direct messaging. Face filters was the last remaining headline Snapchat capability not available to Instagram users. Today, that changed as Instagram unveiled its own take on the feature.
Face filters
Filters are available for posts uploaded to your Story and shared with friends. At launch, eight different effects are available, including character outfits and moving koala ears. The filters are powered by augmented reality so they overlay on your face in a realistic manner.
Besides Story posts, filters can also be used with Instagram's Boomerang looping video feature. They'll follow your movements so they appear to remain static on your face. TechCrunch obtained early access to the filters and said the VR isn't as accurate as Snapchat's more developed approach. However, Instagram's implementation is reportedly easier to use and less blurry than Snapchat's.
"Today, we’re introducing face filters in the camera, an easy way to turn an ordinary selfie into something fun and entertaining," said Instagram. "Whether you’re sitting on the couch at home or you’re out and about, you can use face filters to express yourself and have playful conversations with friends."
Video rewind and story hashtags
As well as face filters, Instagram is also announcing a few other new features today. The company is expanding its app's camera modes with a new "Rewind" video format. Content shot in this mode will play in reverse, giving you a different angle into everyday events.
Elsewhere, Instagram Stories is being expanded with a new hashtag sticker. It lets you link your story post to a hashtag on the social network. The sticker can be moved around and resized like any other. If a viewer taps the sticker, they'll be taken to the hashtag's page in Instagram's Explore tab.
Going beyond Snapchat
The new features will help Instagram to sustain its lead over Snapchat. Since embarking on its mission to win over its upstart rival through simple copying, Instagram has seen remarkable success. Instagram's Stories feature alone now boasts many more users than Snapchat has in total. Snapchat's growth is stalling as it struggles to pitch its product to new users.
Instagram currently has 700 million users and is expanding at a rate of around 100 million every few months. The company's rise has led to a greater focus on extending its growth period for as long as possible, an aim reflected in last week's overhaul of the Instagram web app. With new features rolling out every month, Instagram is trying to avoid falling into the same pit of stagnation that's now threatening to consume Snapchat.
With its cloned product now complete, Instagram will be looking at where to head to next. Based on recent additions to its app, it looks like Pinterest could be the company's next ambitious target.
More about instagram, snapchat, face filters, augmented reality, Social media
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