Augmented reality filters on Instagram are picking up some new tricks with the latest update to Facebook's Spark AR platform.
Spark AR has been making pretty consistent updates to the feature sets developers can play with in creating AR filters since it exited closed beta on Instagram last year. Today, Facebook added some new functionality to the platform on Instagram, allowing creators to build more complex filters to entice users with. Creators can now build filters that respond visually to music or allow users to apply effects to media from their camera roll. In addition to the new features, Facebook has also created AR Sticker templates that can allow creators to customize AR filters quickly.
The new AR Music feature allows developers to create filters that interact with music, be that tunes that are uploaded directly, selected from Instagram's music selection tool or just audio that's playing in the background. It's a pretty logical step for Instagram, bringing equalizer-style visual effects into filters and pushing users to bring music and AR into their Stories simultaneously.
Bringing gallery selection tools to Instagram's filters allow users to spin new AR effects on previously captured photos or video. With Media Library, one can easily grab an old photo or video and toss a filter on it, with Gallery Picker, users can transform a visual filter with media from their gallery, allowing for a level of customization that could promote more consistent usage of singular filters among users.
You can see what they look like in action on Instagram's blog announcing the updates.
Facebook has talked a big game about augmented reality's future across all of its platforms, but over the past several years the company has had a rough time making the camera a meaningful platform inside the Facebook app, leaving much of the development advances to Instagram, which has always had the advantage of a hefty reliance on both its in-app camera and visual filters. These new updates are iterative, but partially address one of the big underlying usability issues with AR filter effects: they often aren't dynamic enough to encourage reuse. Bringing audio effects and greater customizability will allow developers to build filters that can hopefully have new life instilled in them again and again based on user creativity.
These new updates to Spark AR Studio are available today.