Facebook is testing a new Snapchat clone in its main app

Facebook is testing a new Snapchat clone in its main app

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Image: facebook
2016%2f09%2f16%2f8f%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde1lza3.c1888By Karissa Bell2016-10-28 13:00:00 UTC

In what is quickly becoming an all too familiar story: Facebook is — once again — attempting a Snapchat clone. And this time, the company is putting it right inside its main app.

The social network introduced a new experimental camera feature to its app that allows users to privately share photos with filters and other effects.

The feature, which doesn't yet have a formal name, is limited to Ireland for the moment, though it's possible some version of the test could eventually come to more locations (Facebook previously tested similar features in Canada and Brazil during the Olympics.)

For those who are part of the test, a camera icon will appear in the top left corner of the app (this is where the Messenger icon currently appears for U.S. users). Tapping into that menu or swiping right from News Feed opens the new camera.

Facebook's new camera feature, including the new AI-based filters that make your images look like art (right.)

Facebook's new camera feature, including the new AI-based filters that make your images look like art (right.)

Image: facebook

The interface itself will likely look pretty familiar to Snapchat users — it opens on the camera and you can snap photos and videos and add filters, "masks" (Facebook's answer to Snapchat's selfie lenses) and other effects. It also includes a Prisma-style feature that uses artificial intelligence to make your photos and videos look like artwork, which Facebook's Chief Product Officer Chris Cox previewed earlier this week.

Once you've shot your photos and added your effects, you have two options for sharing: you can either share to Facebook as you would any other post or you can share it privately with a limited group of friends via a feature called direct.

Facebook's direct feature for private photo sharing.

Facebook's direct feature for private photo sharing.

Image: facebook

Direct, which also bears a striking resemblance to another ghost-clad messaging app, allows you to share the images you take in the new camera with only the friend you choose. Messages shared this way will appear in a new area of the app you can reach from the top right corner. There, your friends can also write responses to your photos and videos.

The images themselves disappear (though they can be replayed once) once you stop chatting.

Facebook says that all of this is still experimental and that they plan to continue testing variations of these features so it's hard to say if any of it will move beyond a test or what a final version could look like. Though the company says the goal is to capitalize on users' desire to share more casually and more visually, like Instagram Stories, it seems pretty clearly to be yet another shot at Snapchat.

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Topics: apps-and-software, Apps and Software, Facebook, Tech

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