Facebook takes a page from Snapchat, yet again

After Messenger, Facebook now brings the Snapchat-like Stories feature to its main app. Photograph:( WION )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 29, 2017, 08.20 AM (IST)

Facebook is giving the camera a central place on its smartphone app for the first time, encouraging users to take more pictures and edit them with digital stickers that show the influence of rival Snapchat.

The new update will also Facebook users to get to the app's camera with one swipe of their finger and then add visual details like a rainbow or a beard of glitter.

“You can tap on the camera icon on the top left corner of the Facebook app or swipe right from News Feed to try out the new in-app camera. The Facebook camera is packed with dozens of effects like masks, frames and interactive filters that you can apply to your photos and videos,” explains Facebook.

Users will be able to share a picture privately with a friend, rather than to all of their friends, and add a picture to a gallery known as "Facebook Stories," similar to a feature on the Snapchat app. Other people can view photos or videos shared as stories for 24 hours. The stories won’t appear on Timeline or in News Feed unless they are posted them there, too. It works similar to Instagram’s ephemeral slideshow on top of the app.

The company is rolling out the new update for both iOS and Android.

Snapchat popularised sharing of digitally decorated photographs on social media, especially among teenagers, and exposed a weakness of Facebook as the companies battle for eyeballs and leisure time.

Snap has recently emphasised its ambitions to build gadgets and has called itself a camera company rather than a social media network. Some analysts have warned that Snap is susceptible to competition from Facebook.

Facebook, which with 1.86 billion users is the industry leader, denies it took its camera ideas from Snapchat and says it got them from its own users. "Our goal here is to give people more to do on Facebook, and that's really been the main inspiration," Connor Hayes, a Facebook product manager, said in a briefing with reporters.

In a glimpse of how the features could tie in with other businesses, one of the first camera effects will be the ability to morph someone in a photograph into a yellow, cartoon "Minion." The latest Minion movie, "Despicable Me 3," is due out in a few months from Comcast Corp's NBC Universal.

Facebook has deals to license content from six film studios, as well as from two artists, said design director Kristen Spilman.

Another visual effect allows someone in a picture to "become a laser cat with super powers," Spilman said. The effects will vary by location. Spilman said that when Facebook tested the ability to add the phrase "LOL," the acronym for "laugh out loud," users in Ireland did not know what it meant.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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