Facebook Messenger is introducing “group effects,” which will allow everyone on a video chat to have the same augmented reality experience at the same time. The effects are currently accessible in Messenger video calls as well as Messenger Rooms, the service’s Zoom-like videoconferencing function, and will be available shortly on Instagram, according to the firm.
At launch, there are more than 70 group effects accessible, including a game in which users compete to create a virtual burger and another in which a virtual orange cat photobombs the call. It is a departure from the service’s previous augmented reality capabilities, which typically only apply to one person at a time. From the end of the month, developers will be able to create additional group effects using Facebook’s Spark AR API.
Along with the shared group AR experiences, Facebook unveiled a slew of new capabilities for its chat services this month. When a certain phrase is spoken, new “word effects” will allow iOS Messenger users (and ultimately Android users) to activate an animation in a discussion. In August, for example, the firm demonstrated how texting the words “Happy Birthday!” could be programmed to cause the party popper emoji to shoot up the screen. There are also new “Soundmojis” to accompany No Time to Die, as well as chat themes and Halloween artwork for Messenger and Instagram Dms.