Facebook is trying to close the augmented reality gap with Snapchat with the help of an army of third-party developers. Today, eight months after debuting its Augmented Reality Camera Effects platform and AR Studio tool at F8, Facebook is allowing all developers to start building AR experiences for its Facebook Camera. That includes “World Effects” — Facebook’s copy of Snapchat’s World Lenses — that augment your environment with 3D objects rather than just your selfies.
AR Studio becomes available to all developers today, and World Effects will open up there in the next few days for use on Facebook and Messenger. For example, on Messenger you’ll be able to add a 3D heart floating above someone’s head, add an arrow to point to something in a panorama or add a celebrating robot that plays music to jazz up a drab video.
“We want artists, developers, brands and more creators to be able to build and share amazing AR experiences,” writes Facebook director Ficus Kirkpatrick. “By opening AR Studio to all creators, we’re taking steps towards making AR more a part of everyday life.”
Facebook’s opportunity here is to take advantage of Snapchat’s anti-developer attitude. Snapchat has yet to fully embrace third-party AR content beyond some basic image frame submissions and work with a few fine artists like Jeff Koons. Meanwhile, Facebook has been operating a developer platform for more than a decade, and has fostered a huge community of coders looking to get their content in front of Facebook’s massive 2 billion user audience.
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