Hmmm, Where’d They Get That Idea? Instagram Launches Face Filters



Flower crowns face off as Instagram counters Snapchat with its new ‘face filters.’ (It was only a matter of time.)

Instagram’s latest update has a fun, and quite familiar, new feature: face filters. The selfie lenses closely mimic what was arguably Snapchat’s most differentiated characteristic—and could spell more challenges for Snap Inc. on the horizon.

At launch, Instagram is offering eight filters that work from the front- and back-facing cameras and even Boomerang. Similar to Snapchat, there are a few crowns, animal options and some spectacles, too.

As Verge notes, while Instagram’s face filters might seem like a carbon copy of Snapchat’s own filters, the move does fit within Facebook’s long-term strategy to become a leader in augmented reality. Still, the new features seem to be helping Instagram assert itself in the ephemeral content war: at the moment, more people are using Instagram’s Stories feature than Snapchat overall.

Snap Inc. saw shares fall following its first-ever earnings call after reporting a $2.2 billion loss in Q1 2017. That figure might sound massive for a single quarter, but Recode puts things into perspective, explaining that most of the loss can be attributed to paying its employees out $2 billion in company stock. Without that, the figure would be closer to $200 million.

After first quarter earnings fell short of expectations, shares for Snap fell 20 percent. But perhaps more troubling than Snapchat’s investor woes is that platform growth is slowing.

Parallel to these trends is, of course, the incessant presence of Facebook. Across its main app, WhatsApp, Messenger, and of course, Instagram, Facebook has been aggressive in its pursuit to beat Snapchat at its own game by focusing on visual content and rolling out features comparable to those released by Snapchat. Face filters are the latest strike in this assault.

Snapchat has pushed back with its own product enhancements like Magic Eraser and World Lenses for advertisers, proving that the rivalry is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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