Instagram: Time to up your stories game as app adds augmented reality effects
Get ready to see your friends turn into a Terminator and take a selfie in outer space as Instagram adds augmented reality (AR) effects.
Much like the visual tricks seen in smartphone games like Pokemon Go, which allows players to see Pikachu and pals as if they were appearing in the real world, Instagram users will soon be able to up their stories game by overlaying a whole host of weird and wacky effects on to their photos and videos.
Instagram stories differ from regular photo or video posts that appear in the app’s timeline with them appearing at the top of the app in a slideshow format containing a stream of pictures and clips for just 24 hours.
The photo-sharing platform is owned by Facebook and will use the tech giant’s in-house AR platform called Spark to produce the effects, which will also allow people to create their own designs.
Existing filters, smileys, stickers and other overlays featured in Instagram have all been pre-made, but the company is hoping the AR functionality will allow for even greater creativity.
New creations can also be shared with friends and followers, with an effects gallery to be introduced so that users can browse and use anything they fancy.
In a showreel built by Instagram to get the creative juices flowing, people are seen chilling with a virtual pet on their shoulder, taking a selfie as it rains fire, and unmasking their face to reveal a Terminator-style android.
One youngster is seen gradually turning invisible like Harry Potter in the restricted section, while another snaps a selfie in outer space while reacting wildly to a surge of gherkins falling from above – all standard internet fare.
The company said: “Whether you want to add a new layer of fun to an event like a wedding, birthday party, or graduation with a custom filter or you’re a professional who wants to continue to hone their craft, Spark AR Studio has everything you need to get started.
“And with Instagram stories being used by over 500 million users daily, there’s no better place to express yourself with your own AR effects – or simply share the ways you’re using them with your community.”
The update has been released on both the App Store and the Google Play Store, which have both become packed with apps featuring AR effects.
Some offer dedicated AR-only experiences, such as seeing how new furniture might fit in your living room or mapping the stars on a clear night, while others have begun adding AR features as a bonus.
Last week, Google said it was to more widely introduce AR tools to aid navigation in its Maps app.
The new feature will see AR arrows appear on the real-world scene as seen on your smartphone screen, to help with walking navigation.