The social media wars are heating up with this week’s introduction of Instagram face filters—a blatant rip-off of Snapchat.
An initial set of eight filters are available in the most up-to-date version of the mobile app.
Just open the stories camera (swipe left) and look for the new face icon in the bottom right corner. As Snapchat users are accustomed to, tap any filter to “try it on,” then snap a photo and record a video using the front- or back-facing shooter.
“From math equations swirling around your head to furry koala ears that move and twitch, you can transform into a variety of characters that make you smile or laugh,” a company blog post said.
As a non-Snapchatter, I can’t personally compare the two features. But according to TechCrunch, Instagram’s copycat is “easier to use and [doesn’t] distort your face as much.”
The filters are flawed, though: TC’s Josh Constine complained that the clone does not “track your movements and stay properly positioned on your face as well as Snapchat’s.”
No one should be surprised by Instagram’s latest theft. Since Snapchat launched Stories more than three years ago, social networks have been scrambling to integrate similar functions into their platforms. Facebook even launched its own version in March.
Instagram Vice President of Product Kevin Weil, however, has no qualms about appropriating someone else’s inventions.
“If we’re being honest with ourselves, this is the way the tech industry works and frankly it’s how all industries work,” Weil said during this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt NY, by way of explanation (but not apology).
“Good ideas start in one place, and they spread across the entire industry,” he continued. “Kudos to Snapchat for being the first to Stories, but it’s a format, and it’s going to be adopted widely across a lot of different platforms.”
Instagram also unveiled a few other new features: make videos that play in reverse (look for the “Rewind” camera format), add hashtag stickers to stories (viewers can tap to explore related posts), and use the eraser brush as a drawing tool (fill the screen with color, then creatively reveal what lies beneath).
The updates are available as part of Instagram version 10.21 for iOS in the iTunes App Store, and for Android in Google Play.
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