Facebook Avatars is its new clone of Snapchats Bitmoji

Hidden inside the code of Facebook’s Android app is an unreleased feature called Facebook Avatars that lets people construct personalized, illustrated versions of themselves for utilize as stickers in Messenger and comments. It will let users customize their avatar to illustrate their skin color, hair style and facial features. Facebook Avatars is basically Facebook’s version of Snapchat’s acquisition, Bitmoji, which has expended years in the top-1 0 apps chart.

Back in October I wrote that ” Facebook severely needs its own Bitmoji ,” and it seems the company concurs. Facebook has become the identity layer for the internet, to make it possible to bring your personal info and social graph to other services. But as the world moves toward visual communication, a name or static profile pic aren’t enough to represent us and our breadth of feelings. Avatars hold the answer, as they can be contorted to convey our reactions to all sorts of different situations when we’re too busy or camera-shy to take a photo.

The screenhots arrive courtesy of eagle-eyed developer Jane Manchun Wong, who found the Avatars in the Facebook for Android application package — a set of files that often contain features that are unreleased or in testing. Her excavating also contributed to TechCrunch’s reports about Instagram’s music stickers and Twitter’s unlaunched encrypted DMs.

Facebook confirmed it’s house Avatars, telling me, “We’re looking into more ways to help people express themselves on Facebook.” However, the feature is still early in development and Facebook isn’t sure when it will start publicly testing.

In the onboarding flowing for the feature, Facebook explains that” Your Facebook Avatar is a whole new style to express yourself on Facebook. Leave expressive comments with personalized stickers. Use your new avatar stickers in your Messenger group and private chats .” The Avatars should look like the images on the far right of these screenshot exams. You can imagine Facebook creating an updating reel of stickers proving your avatar in happy, sad, confused, angry, bored or excited scenes to fit your mood.

Currently it’s unclear whether you’ll have to configure your Avatar from a blank starter face, or whether Facebook will use machine vision and artificial intelligence to generate one based on your photos. The latter is how the Facebook Space VR avatars( previewed in April 2017) are automatically generated.

Facebook depicts off its 3D VR avatars at F8 2018. The new Facebook Avatars are 2D and can be used in messaging and comments.

Using AI to start with a decent lookalike of you could tempt users to try Avatars and streamline the creation process so you just have to make small corrections. However, the AI could creep people out, make people angry if it misrepresents them or produce monster visages no one wants to see. Given Facebook’s recent privacy scandals, I’d imagine it would play it conservatively with Avatars and just ask users to construct them from scratch. If Avatars grow popular and people are eager to use them, it could always introduce auto-generation from your photos later.

Facebook has expended at least three years trying to figure out avatars for VR. What started as generic blue heads evolved to take on fundamental human characteristics, real skin tones and more accurate facial features, and are now getting quite lifelike. You can see that progression up top. Last week at F8, Facebook revealed that it’s developing a way to use facial tracking sensors to map real-time expressions onto a photo-realistic avatar of a user so they can look like themselves inside VR, but without the headset on.

But as long as Facebook’s Avatars are trapped in VR, they’re missing the majority of members of their potential.

Bitmoji’s parent company Bitstrips launched in 2008, and while its cartoon strip creator was cool, it was the personalized emoji avatar feature that was most exciting. Snapchat acquired Bitstrips for a mere $64.2 million in early 2016, but once it integrated Bitmoji into its chat feature as stickers, the app took off. It’s often risen higher than Snapchat itself, and even Facebook’s ubiquitous products on the App Store charts, and was the No. 1 free iOS app as recently as February. Now Snapchat lets “youre using” your Bitmoji avatar as a profile pic, online status indicator in message threads, as 2D stickers and as 3D characters that move around in your Snaps.

It’s actually surprising that Facebook has waited this long to clone Bitmoji, given how popular Instagram Tale and its other copies of Snapchat features had now become. Facebook comment reels and Messenger threads could get a lot more emotive, personal and fun when the company eventually launches its own Avatars.

Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that visual communication is replacing text, but that’s forced users to either use generic emoji out of convenience or deal with the chore and self-consciousness of shooting a quick photo or video. Especially in Stories, which will soon surpass feeds as the main way we share social media, people need a quick route to convey their identity and emotion. Avatars let your identity scale to whatever impression you want to transmit without the complications of the real world.

For more on the potential of Facebook Avatars, read our piece calling for their creation :

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Facebook Stories reveals 150M daily viewers and here come ads

After 14 months of silence since launching, Facebook Stories has finally announced a 150 million daily active user count for its Snapchat Stories clone. And now it’s time to earn some money off it. Facebook Stories will start testing its first ads today in the U.S ., Mexico and Brazil.

They’re 5- to 15 -second video ads users can skip, and while there’s no click-through or call to action now, Facebook plans to add that in the coming months. Advertisers can easily extend their Instagram Stories ads to this new surface, or have Facebook automatically reformat their News Feed ads with color-matched perimeters and text at the bottom. Facebook also plans to give business more metrics on their Stories performance to convince them the feature is worth their ad dollars.

Advertisers can extend their Instagram Stories ads to Facebook Stories( left ), or have Facebook reformat their News Feed ads with color-matched image borders and ad transcript text shown at the bottom

Facebook has to nail Stories ads to preserve its business, as CPO Chris Cox said this month that Stories sometime next year will surpass feed posts as the top style to share. CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned that Facebook must ensure” that ads are as good in Stories as they are in feeds. If we don’t do this well, then as more sharing changes to Tales, that could hurt our business.” Despite criticism that the feature is obtrusive and redundant with Instagram Stories, Facebook is demonstrating there’s no retreating from the ephemeral slideshow format. And Snapchat could see ad spend slip over to Facebook, especially since the big blue social network has so much targeting data on us.

The race for storytellers

My first question was how Facebook is defining a daily user for Stories. It’s anyone who watches a Story on Facebook’s app or site. That’s useful, because it means it’s not counting users who simply cross-post their Tales from Instagram or Messenger to Facebook, which would inflate the number. It’s a testament to the coercive power of the top-of-feed Stories design that Instagram pioneered and Facebook brought over, and it’s already testing bigger Stories preview tiles.

For context, here’s a breakdown of Narratives daily user counts and total monthly user counts across the top players, ranked by size 😛 TAGEND

WhatsApp Status: 450 million daily out of 1.5 billion monthly as of May 2018 Instagram Stories: 300 million daily out of 800 million monthly as of November 2017 Snapchat( whole app ): 191 million daily as of May 2018, launched Facebook Stories: 150 million daily out of 2.2 billion monthly as of May 2018 Messenger Day/ Stories: 70 million daily out of 1.3 billion monthly as of September 2017

Stories are about to surpass feed sharing. Now what?

We’re at the cusp of the visual communication era. Narrative creation and intake is up 842 percentage since early 2016, according to consulting firm Block Party. Nearly a billion accounts across Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Messenger now create and watch these horizontal, ephemeral slideshows. And yesterday, Facebook chief product policeman Chris Cox depicted a chart detailing how” the Stories format is on a path to outstrip feeds as the primary route people share things with their friends sometime next year .”

The repercussions of this medium shift are vast. Users now consider how every moment could be extol and added to the narrative of their day. Social media platforms are steamrolling their old designs to highlight the camera and people’s Story. And advertisers must rethink their message not as a headline, body text, and connection, but as a background, overlays, and a be thought that persists even if viewers don’t click through.

WhatsApp’s Tale now have over 450 million daily users. Instagram’s have over 300 million. Facebook Messenger’s had 70 million in September. And Snapchat as a whole only reached 191 million,about 150 million of which use Tale according to Block Party. With 970 million accounts, it’s the format of the future. Block Party calculates that Stories grew 15 X faster than feeds from Q2 2016 to Q3 2017. And that doesn’t even count Google’s new AMP Stories for news, Netflix’s Stories for mobile movie previews, and YouTube’s new Stories feature.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even admitted on last week’s earnings call that the company is focused on” making sure that ads are as good in Stories as they are in feeds. If we don’t do this well, then as more sharing shiftings to Stories, that could hurt our business .” When asked, Facebook confirmed that it’s now working on monetization for Facebook Stories.

From Invention To Standard

” They deserve all the credit “, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told me about Snapchat when his own app launched its clone of Tales. They sprouted as Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and his squad reimagining the Facebook News Feed through the lens of its 10 -second disappearing messages. But they’ve blossomed into the dominant way to see life from someone else’s view. Just as Facebook and Twitter took FriendFeed and refined it with relevancy sorting, character constraints, and all ways of embedded media, the Stories format is still being perfected.” This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it” Systrom followed up.

Snapchat is trying to figure out if Stories from friends and professional inventors should be separate, and if they should be sorted by relevancy or reverse chronologically. Instagram and Facebook are opening Tale up to posts from third-party apps like Spotify that attains them a great way to discover music. WhatsApp is pushing the engineering limits of Tales, figuring out ways to build the high-bandwidth videos play on slow networks in the developing world.

Messenger is moving its camera from the navigation menu to the top corner, and settling in as a place to watch Stories shared from Facebook and Instagram( though you can still post there too ). Meanwhile, Messenger is merging augmented reality, commerce, and Stories so users can preview products in AR and then either share or buy them. Instagram generated a Stories carousel ad that lets industries share a slideshow of three photos or videos together to string together a narrative. And perhaps most tellingly, Facebook is testing a new post composer for its News Feed that actually demonstrates an active camera and camera roll preview to coerce you into sharing Stories instead of a text status. Companies who refuse the trend may be left behind.

Social Media Bedrock

As I wrote two years ago when Snapchat was the only app with Stories 😛 TAGEND

” Social media creates a window through which your friends can watch your life. Yet most social networks weren’t designed that way, because phones, screen sizes, cameras, and mobile network connects weren’t good enough to build a crystal-clear portal.

With all its text, Twitter is like peering through a crack in a fence. There are lots of cracks next to each other, but none let you assure the full story. Facebook is largely blank space. It’s like a tiny jail-cell window surrounded by concrete. Instagram was the closest thing we had. Like a quaint living room window, you can only see in to the clean and pretty part they want you to see.

Snapchat is the floor-to-ceiling window observation deck into someone’s life. It sees every type of communication humans have invented: video, audio, text, emblems, and draws. Beyond virtual reality and 360 video — both tough to capture or watch on the go — it’s difficult to imagine where social media evolves from here .” It turns out that over the next two years, social media would not evolve, but instead converge on Narrative.

What happened next is a race for more adornments, more augmented reality, more developers, and more extendability beyond native apps and into the rest of the web. Until we stop using cell phone all together, we’ll likely see most of sharing divided between private messaging and broadcasted Stories.

The medium is a double-edged sword for culture, though. While a much more vivid route to share and engender empathy, they also threaten to commodify life. When Instagram launched Stories, Systrom said it was because otherwise you “only get to see the highlights “.

But he downplayed how a medium for capturing more than the highlights would pressure people around the world to interrupt any beautiful scene or fit of laughter or quiet pause with their camera phone. We went from people shooting and sharing once or a few times a day to constantly. In fact, people scheme their activities not just around a picture-perfect destination, but turning their whole journey into success theater.

If Story are our new favorite tool, “were supposed to” learn to wield them judiciously. Sometimes a memory is worth more than an audience. When it’s right to record, don’t get in the way of someone else’s experience. And after the Story is shot, return to the moment and save captioning and decoration for down hour. Stories are social media bedrock. There’s no richer way to share, so they’re going to be around for a while. We better learn to gracefully coexist.

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3 tests show Facebook is determined to make Stories the default

Facebook isn’t backing down from Stories despite criticism that it copied Snapchat and that Instagram Stories is enough. Instead, it’s committed to figuring out how to adapt the slideshow format into the successor to the status update. That’s why today the company is launching three significant tests that construct Facebook Stories a default style to share.

” The route people share and connect is changing; it’s rapidly becoming more real-time and visual. We’re testing new creative tools to bring paintings and videos to life, and introducing easier ways to find and share narratives, ” a Facebook spokesperson told me.

Meanwhile, Facebook has been fixing the biggest problems with its Tales: redundancy between Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Now you can set your Instagram Stories to automatically be reposted to your Facebook Story, and Stories on Facebook and Messenger sync with each other. That means you can just post to Instagram and have your Story show up on all three apps. That route if you want extra positions or to include friends who aren’t Insta-addicts, you can show them your Tale with no extra uploads.

It was a year ago that Facebook rolled out Stories. But Facebook has so many features that it has to stimulate tough decisions about which to promote and which to bury. It often launches features with extra visibility at first, but forces them to grow popular on their own before devoting them any additional attention.

Facebook pivots into Stories

Facebook is vulnerable to competitors if it doesn’t induce Tales run, and users may eventually grow tired of the News Feed full of text updates from distant acquaintances. But Instagram Stories and WhatsApp’s version Status have both grown to more than 250 million daily users, presenting there’s obviously demand for this product if Facebook can figure out how Narrative fit in its app.

Hence, these tests 😛 TAGEND

The Facebook status composer on mobile will immediately depict an open camera window and the most recent images in your camera roll to spur Stories sharing. Devoted that Facebook has as many as 17 selections for status updates, from check-ins to recommendations to GIFs, the new camera and camera roll previews stimulate Stories a much more prominent option. Facebook isn’t going so far as to launch with the camera as the home screen like Snapchat, or half the screen like it once tried, but it clearly believes it will be able to ride the trend and people will get more out of sharing if they prefer Tales. This starts testing today to a small subset of users around the world. When you shoot something with the augmented reality-equipped Facebook Camera feature, the sharing page will now default to having Tales selected. Previously, users had to choose if they wanted to post to Stories, News Feed or send their creation to someone through Messenger. Facebook is now nudging users to go with Stories, apparently confident of its existing predominance over the ranked feed and messaging spaces. This test will begin with all users in the Dominican Republic. Above the News Feed, Facebook Stories will show up with big preview tiles behind the smaller profile pictures of the people who created them. Pestering what’s inside a Story could make users a lot more likely to click to watch them. Facebook utilizes a similar format, but with smaller preview circles on Messenger. And while Instagram leaves more room for the main feed by only indicating profile pic bubbles for Narratives, if you maintain scrolling you might insure a call-out in the feed for Narrative you haven’t watched use a big preview tile format similar to what Facebook Stories is trying. More opinions could promote users to share more Stories, helping to dismantle the ghost township perception of Facebook Stories. This will also test to a small percentage of users around the world.

One of Facebook’s new Stories tests indicates big preview tiles behind people’s profile bubbles

If Facebook procures these tests prove popular, they could roll out everywhere and attain Stories a much more central part of the app’s experience. Facebook will have to avoid users feeling like Stories are get crammed down their throats. But the open camera, Stories default and bigger previews all disappear with a quick tap or swipe.

The fact is that the modern world of calculating affords a very different type of social media than when Facebook launched 14 years ago. Then, you’d update your status with a line of text from your desktop computer because your phone didn’t have a good camera( or maybe even the internet ), screens were small, mobile networks were slow and it was tough to compute on the go. Now with every telephone equipped with a great camera, a nice screen, increasingly fast mobile networks and everyone else staring at them all the time, it induces sense to share through photographs and videos you post throughout the day.

This isn’t a shift driven by Facebook, or even really Snapchat. Visual communication is an inevitable evolution. For Facebook, Stories aren’t an “if,” just a “how.”

First look at Instagram Nametags, its clone of Snapchat QR codes

Instagram is preparing to launching specific features called Nametags that lets you create a special image that people can scan with the Instagram Stories camera to follow you. TechCrunch has broken the news of Nametags code in Instagram’s Android APK last month. But now thanks to reader Genady Okrain we have screenshots and more details of the Instagram Nametags feature.

Nametags could make it easier for people to visually promote their Instagram account. It could make it simple to follow a friend you merely met by having them open their Nametag and then you scanning it. Meanwhile, businesses and social media stars could post their Nametag across other social media handles, publish it onto posters or handbills or even stimulate merchandise out of it.

An Instagram spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that it is testing the Nametags feature. Instagram’s been spotted doing a commotion of feature developing lately. TechCrunch has reported that code for an Instagram Video Calling feature was found in its Android APK. Meanwhile, it’s testing a Portrait mode feature called Focus.

[ Update 4/10/ 18: Instagram has now rolled out its Focus portrait mode .]

Once users have access, they’ll be able to reached a QR scanner button on their profile to bring up the Nametag editor. They can then choose from a purple Instagram color gradient background, a pattern of one emoji they choice or a selfie they can jazz up with augmented reality face filters that then becomes an emoji pattern. The user’s Instagram username appears in the center. For now, users in the test group can’t share or scan Nametags. But the code we detected explains that users can scan them to follow people.

Snapchat in January 2015 launched its own Snapcodes that work similarly, entailing Instagram took its time copying this feature. But with social media stars and business banished to Snapchat’s Discover channel, those accounts might be looking to prioritize promoting their Instagram accounts. If inventors find it easier to build an audience on Instagram and get more engagement there, they could give the Facebook-owned app their first-run content. The eventual launching of Nametags could give them one more reason to use Snapchat copycat Instagram Stories instead of the original.

For more on upcoming Instagram features, check out our other stories on Focus and Video Calling

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Instagrams hidden portrait mode Focus now in testing

Eager to one-up Snapchat, Instagram ais preparing to expand its collection of shutter modes beyond options like Boomerang and Superzoom. Buried within Instagram’s Android Application Package( APK) is an icon for a Portrait shutter for the Stories camera. This could potentially let people shoot stylized portraits with bokeh effect-blurred backgrounds or other lighting effects.

[ Update 3/9: Instagram is now testing its portrait feature in the wild under the name “Focus”. It was spotted by Pippa Akram and shared by Matt Navarra. It asks users to “Find a face” to start, and uses the portrait icon we reported. Here’s what it looks like. The result is a portrait with a blurred background and in-focus face, though the resulting images appear much lower quality than Portrait mode on newer iPhones.

When requested information about the feature after initially declining to comment earlier the coming week, Instagram tells TechCrunch “We are testing a camera format that lets you easily capture artistic quality photos and video, as another way to improve the experience on Instagram and make it easier to share everyday moments with the people who matter to you .]

TechCrunch reader Ishan Agarwal exclusively shared the images below with TechCrunch after decompiling the APK, which is the file format equivalent of Windows’. exe but for Android. The icon would show up overlaid on the Instagram Stories camera shutter button when you swipe to the corresponding mode.

The revelation follows our scoop from this research last week that uncovered voice and video calling features concealed within Instagram’s Direct messaging system.

Many smartphones, including newer iPhones, include a portrait alternative in their default native cameras. People can shoot there and upload to places like Instagram. But users are increasingly recording content with the in-app Stories cameras in Instagram and Snapchat that offer advanced editing and special effects.

Portrait mode could offer extra creative prospects while one-upping Snapchat, which lacks any similar feature. After testing a basic version on the iPhone 7 plus, Apple dedicated the new iPhone 8 plus and iPhone X a range of portrait options like contour illuminating or studio lighting. But Instagram’s version is available for video as well.

Instagram must constantly evolve to stay interesting. The sepia latte arts and over-saturated sunsets that once dominated the feed had now become passe. But the Instagram-Snapchat limbs race has led to increasingly gaudy and bombastic augmented reality filters, colorful stickers and seething GIFs. “Focus” could push Instagram back to its classier roots, and help people generate images worth saving after their Tales turn to ash by the next sunrise.

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Instagram code reveals unreleased voice and video calling

Instagram wants to be your telephone , not only your camera. And it wants to be better at it than Snapchat. Files buried in Instagram and the Instagram Direct standalone app’s Android Application Packages( APKs) are files and icons for “Call” and “Video Call”. APKs often prove files for unreleased features that are lying dormant in an app waiting to be surfaced where the business is ready to launch them. So it seems Instagram is preparing to launch audio and video calling within its Direct messaging system.

You can see the files in this image shared with TechCrunch by reader Ishan Agarwal 😛 TAGEND

This strengthens our report from January about an image of an a video call button spotted by the WAbetainfo blog. At the time this appeared to be only testing internally and Instagram gave us a “no comment”. Similarly, today when presented with this new evidence, an Instagram spokesperson told me “I’m afraid we can’t comment on this one”.

But now that the button icons are in APK, which is publicly available but takes work to decompile and comb through, it’s hard for the company to deny the coming launch. Last month it gave me a no comment when TechCrunch spotted a new Giphy GIF sharing feature…which then launched a week later.

The addition of voice and video calling would build Instagram a better chat alternative to Snapchat, which first launched video calling in 2014 and enhanced the feature with easier access plus audio and video notes in 2016. It’s actually surprising Instagram hasn’t launched these features already. Beyond Narrative, Instagram has been working hard to leapfrog Snapchat with new features like replay privacy controls that Snapchat lacks.

Instagram Direct’s replay privacy controls, which Snapchat lacks

Fellow Facebook app Messenger started experimenting with VoIP audio calling in 2013, added video calling in 2015, launched six-way split-screen group video calls in 2016. As of a year ago, 400 million people used Messenger audio and video calling each month, demonstrating their clear popularity.

Instagram’s competition has contributed to stagnation in the growth of Snapchat Stories sharing, but messaging remains beloved by Snap’s younger users. While Instagram blended ephemeral and permanent image sharing in Direct in April 2017, and launched the standalone Direct app last year, messaging still feels bolted on to Messenger. It was merely added in 2013, three years after Instagram started as simply a feed.

Instagram Direct blends ephemeral and permanent messaging

But if Instagram can become the best way to communicate visually , no matter the medium, it could steal users from Snapchat and make it’s app more appealing to people around the world. Instagram doesn’t monetize messaging itself, but becoming a stand-in for people’s phones could lead to spillover usage of its feed and Narratives that demonstrate ads.

Instagram is meant to be a window into the lives of your friends. Now you get their weekly highlights in the feed, daily escapades on Narratives, monologues on Live, asynchronous memes and messages in Direct. Calling could turn Instagram’s window into a doorway.

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WhatsApp hits 1.5 billion monthly users. $19B? Not so bad.

Facebook’s $ 19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp voices smarter and smarter. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on the Q4 2017 earnings call today that WhatsApp now has 1.5 billion users and considers 60 billion messages sent per day. That’s compared to 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 billion daily active users in July.

The massive growth builds Facebook’s choice to pay more than $ 19 billion to acquire WhatsApp look prescient. At the time in 2014, WhatsApp had just 450 million monthly active users and 315 million daily active users.

In a slight to Snapchat, Zuckerberg also noted that Instagram and WhatsApp are the No. 1 and No. 2 most popular Story-sharing products, referring to those apps’ clones of Snapchat Stories. Each now each has 300 million daily active users, compared to 178 million on Snapchat as a whole. He also mentions that Facebook’s research been shown that across apps, total social media posting to Stories will soon outstrip that of feed posting.

People thought Facebook was crazy to pay such a high cost. But messaging is the most critical and time-consuming activity on mobile. And if Facebook didn’t buy WhatsApp, Google probably would have, and messaging would be a two-horse race. Instead, Facebook is massively dominant everywhere but China, between the 1.3 billion-user Messenger and 1.5 billion-user WhatsApp.

Now Facebook is ultimately getting serious about monetizing WhatsApp with the recent launch of the WhatsApp for Business app. Facebook plans to charge business owners for additional commerce, customer service or broadcasting tools. And with such a massive audience, merchants will be clamoring for them.

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Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status hit 300M users, nearly 2X Snapchat

Instagram and WhatsApp’s Snapchat clones aren’t slowing down. Today Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status both now have 300 million daily active users. That’s up from 250 million for Instagram in June, and WhatsApp in July. That makes the copies virtually twice the size of the original, as Snapchat’s entire app only has 173 million daily active users. Zuckerberg shared the new stats today on Facebook’s Q3 earnings call that assured it earn record revenue and an all-time high share cost despite the shadow of Russian election interference.

Now that most of Facebook products, including Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories and Messenger Day, have their own augmented reality face filters, they’ve hit a certain degree of feature parity with Snapchat. That means we may ensure more innovation now that there’s a lower level of Snap roadmap to follow. Though perhaps we’ll ensure Facebook transcript Snapchat’s Bitmoji personalized avatars and Snap Map location-sharing feature. For example, Instagram merely launched Superzoom to let you add dramatic zoom-ins to your videos, and is testing a Stop Motion feature.

Instagram Stories

Zuckerberg said on the call that he find promoting community around video as a big push for Facebook as it switchings from focusing on “time spent” on the company’s household of apps to “time well spent.” Zuckerberg explained that “research shows that interacting with friends and family on social media tends to be more meaningful and can be good for our well-being, and that’s hour well spent. But when we just passively consume content, that may be less true.”

WhatsApp Status

Because Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status are peer-to-peer video usually viewed by close friends, they enhance the community feel of Facebook’s apps in ways that top-down professionally produced content can’t. People also watch these short clips intensely, which could be a boon for the ads Facebook now inserts between Instagram Stories.

Now more than half of Instagram’s 500 million daily active users are on Stories, indicating that it’s becoming the future of the app. That notion is supported by the fact that Instagram now injects big preview tiles of Stories into the middle of its feed to foster you to watch them. While people might like to permanently post the occasional glamour shot, or promptly scroll them, Tales drive daily creation and longer bouts of intake. While Snapchat may have pioneered the idea, Instagram is pushing to perfect this modern kind of social media.

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Instagram Stories launches cross-posting to Facebook Stories

Facebook Stories might not be a ghost township for long. After testing in Portugal last month, TechCrunch spotted the option to syndicate your Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories appearing to US users. Now Facebook confirms this feature is officially rolling out, and everyone should have it soon if not already. The only exception is businesses, since they’re not allowed on Facebook Stories yet.

Instagram is now rolling out the ability to share Tales to Facebook Stories.[ Name and profile photos redacted for privacy]

“You now have the option to share your Instagram Stories to your Facebook Stories. We’re always working to make it easier to share any moment with the ones who matter to you” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. Facebook also told us that while you can’t do the reverse, posting Facebook Stories to Instagram Stories, it hasn’t ruled that out building that in the future.

The feature should drastically cut down on the annoyance of manually syndicating your Tales, which takes both extra day and can lead to reduced image quality as posts are saved and re-uploaded elsewhere. Stories are supposed to be raw, and created in the moment, but all that cross-posting can steal your attention from what you were doing.

Facebook has effectivally pivoted to Stories,making it the main destination for posts from Facebook Camera and its augmented reality Camera Consequence platform. Today’s launch proves Facebook is doubling-down on Stories rather than retreating even though it’s been off to a bit of a slow start since its global launch in July/

This Snapchat Stories clone has been criticized as redundant, considering Facebook already had Instagram Stories, Messenger Day, and WhatsApp Status. And a daily active user counting has yet to be announced for Facebook Stories, despite Instagram touting 100 million simply two months after launching in August 2016. Instagram Stories now has over 250 million, just like WhatsApp Status, while Messenger day has over 70 million.

Instagram doesn’t disclose the break down of its 250 million users in terms of people who post versus those who just watch, but the roll out of the syndication feature could bring a ton of new content to Facebook Stories, which recently added viewing desktop.Instagram is also bringing Stories viewing and posting to desktop.

When Facebook Stories first rolled out, many people ensure tiny position counts despite Facebook’s massive popularity. But I’ve received audiences are warming up to Facebook Stories. This week I manually shared identical situateds of Narratives on Facebook where I have 2800 friends and Instagram where I have 5000 followers. Yet on Facebook I received over 820 opinions compared to simply 220 on Instagram.[ Update: I do have 60,000 public followers, Facebook, but the social network typically proved my News Feed posts to fewer users when I posted publicly than simply to friends. Still, I’m investigating where most of the views come from .]

That indicates that people are willing to watch Narratives on Facebook…there’s only not as much content there since it’s only open to users and public figure, and its camera is more glitchy and less familiar. Meanwhile Instagram Stories’ polished composer is widely used and is accessible to brands. So basically, if you’re looking for spectators, there’s a big possibility on Facebook Stories right now.

Hopefully down the line Facebook’s whole household of apps will enable easy cross-posting, so no matter whether you compose on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger, you’ll be able to share to all the networks you want with a single upload. If Facebook got really smart, it’d even understand who had watched what where, so you wouldn’t consider the Story you merely viewed on Facebook show up unwatched at the front of the Instagram Stories section.

The increasing audience and interoperability of Facebook’s four Stories products should fret Snapchat, which considered daily user growth plummet from a stellar 17.2% per quarter before Instagram’s clone launched last year to a soggy 4.2% in Q2 2017. Snapchat still clings to its reverse chronological feed despite the relevancy sorting Facebook offers in its News Feed and Story constructing it easier to keep up with your close friends.

Facebook isn’t backing down , no matter how much it gets criticized for cloning. The company’s head of design Luke Woods spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt SF last month, and when asked about whether he thought it was ethical to copy Snapchat, he told me “We’re putting people first. We’re focusing on the outcome, on helping them to achieve their goals, and secondarily on what form that takes.”

So even though Facebook may have to swallow its pride, if Narratives are what users want, it’s going to give them to the world. And all the metrics indicate that Facebook’s users want these vertical video slideshows , no matter who fabricated them.

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