Instagram Rolls Out Face Filters, Admits a War on Snapchat

With today's arrival of Instagram Face Filters, Facebook and Instagram's complete and utter dismantling of the Snapchat platform is complete.

Instagram is rolling out eight inaugural Face Filters, including furry koala ears, math equations swirling around your head, and—most fittingly—an ice crown. To the winner go the spoils.

Not five minutes after Instagram announced Face Filters and several other new features—including a Rewind button, Hashtag stickers, and an Eraser button—Instagram VP of Product Kevin Weil walked onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City shooting an Instagram Story of the crowd.

Weil, the former VP of Product at Twitter, has been at Instagram for around 15 months. In that time, the the app has switched to an algorithmic feed and rolled out Instagram Stories, which now eclipses Snapchat with more than 200 million daily active users (DAUs) in less than a year. Instagram is also testing location-based Stories (like Snapchat's geofilters and local stories), but hasn't yet publicly confirmed that feature.

"Face filters are an expected part of a modern camera, so we're super excited to launch them today," said Weil. "The first eight filters are live now, and we've also launched a handful of other things including a reverse video format, a hashtag sticker allowing you to tag stories the same way you can tag mentions, and some other tools like an eraser."

The next question, inevitably, is how Instagram's Face Filters are different from Snapchat's. You can get to the filters from the face icon in the right corner of the Instagram app when you're filming a story. Just like Snapchat, you tap a filter to try it on and there are individual and group filters to use with friends in the frame. Face Filters also integrate with Boomerang by default, and the finished snaps 'grams can be sent as an Instagram DM or uploaded to your story.

"The important thing to us when we launched Face Filters was to do it in a way that was natural to Instagram. There's a level of craft and attention to detail with each of the eight filters that I think is unique," said Weil. "One of my favorites is the koala filter. I have 7-month-old twins, I put them on screen and I see two little koalas looking up at me, and the ears twitch the same way a koala's ears naturally twitch. There's another feature with a spotlight. As you move around, the spotlight will follow you."

These updates are available as part of Instagram version 10.21 for iOS in the Apple App Store and for Android in Google Play.

Instagram Admits All-Out War on Snapchat

Face Filters are the cherry on top of one of the more deft and almost impressively brazen business moves Mark Zuckerberg has made to get Facebook where it is today.

Instagram Stories and now Face Filters are one facet of the strategy. Add that to Facebook's copycat Messenger Day feature and most importantly, the company's new Camera Effects augmented reality (AR) developer platform announced at F8, and it amounts to a ruthlessly effective scorched earth copycat campaign. Zuckerberg's F8 keynote was one long subtweet of Snap Inc., where Zuck didn't mention the word Snapchat once. Today, he also posted an Instagram video in which he sported one of the app's new filters and congratulated his team on a "nice job."

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