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Facebook brings augmented reality Group Effects to Messenger video calls

Facebook brings Group Effects, AR games to Messenger calls
Facebook has just added a boatload of new augmented reality filters to the Messenger app, and it looks like a heck of a lot of fun to be had. 

The new Group Effects AR feature is already available on Messenger group calls or in Messenger Rooms, and is meant to give you fun virtual things to interact with you and your friends, such as a fuzzy orange cat tail appearing randomly across different participants' screens. 

Or it can superimpose objects onto your body that move around with you, as regular filters do—only on Group Effects, everything applies to everyone rather just a single participant.

And Group Effects isn't just AR filters and objects on the screen, either. There are also augmented reality games that group callers can play together, such as trying to stack the tallest burger you can by using your head to control the bottom bun. 


The new Group Effects library comprises over 70 new effects, meaning you and your friends (or colleagues, depending on how close you are) can try a different one every day for a few months. 

How to use Group Effects on iPhone and Android

Group Effects are already available to everyone who uses Messenger on mobile. You could try them out right now on by either starting a video call or creating a room in Messenger, then tapping the smiley face icon to open the effects tray, and then choosing "Group Effects" from there.

Just don't accidentally call your boss, though, and make him spill his coffee when he sees his face in the camera enveloped by green, hairy, overgrown beard!

Note:Group Effects only work on the mobile Messenger app on iOS and Android, and aren't available on PC—only from your phone or tablet.

Group Effects are coming to Instagram soon

It seems Group Effects isn't just a Messenger-exclusive feature, either, as Facebook is also extending it to to its subsidiary Instagram. Instagrammers should be able to access the new AR filters and games in group calls on their platform in the near future, says Facebook.

Creators and developers can also build their own Group Effects

By the end of October, the new Spark AR Multipeer API (which is used to create these effects) will become publicly available to developers who may be interesting in building their own Group Effects. This is a first for Facebook, as all such endeavors have previously been developed within an entirely closed system, accessible only by company-internal creators.

Some lucky few third-party creators have already had the chance to use their artistic skills on Group Effect development, such as Ross Wakefield who designed the “Blow the Dandelion” Group Effect (i.e. the "green beard" filter below).

New reasons to get excited every week

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