Facebook, the social network with 2 billion users worldwide, selected mobile application developer Meitu to showcase three augmented reality effects for Facebook’s camera function, according to a statement. Meitu’s photo editing and beauty apps have been downloaded on 1.1 billion devices globally.
Facebook's newly created AR Studio lets artists and developers create AR experiences such as animated frames, masks and interactive effects that respond to motion, interactions during Facebook Live broadcasts or third-party data. Meitsu’s three front- and rear-facing camera effects chosen for the test are “a selfie of the future” with a robot, a doughnut-eating cartoon character and an instant makeup lens.
Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of platform partnerships, this week previewed Meitu's soon-to-be-launched AR camera effects at the RISE Conference in Hong Kong. Meitu is the first Asian mobile developer selected for Facebook’s AR camera tests, he said.
It is starting to look like 2017 may be remembered as the year that AR really started to take off with support from major technology companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Microsoft. Facebook at its F8 developer conference in April showcased AR technology as a powerful way to make more compelling apps for mobile phones, and Meitu is one of the first companies to get on board with testing the platform. Not to be outdone, Apple last month announced the ARKit for iOS during its Worldwide Developer Conference to help programmers make AR apps and experiences for the iPhone and iPad. Expectations are high for Apple's ARKit as it has the potentially to quickly become the largest AR platform depending on how many iPhone users upgrade to the iOS 11 software update expected some time in the fall.
Meitu’s participation in Facebook’s camera test will help the company reach a broader audience outside of China. Its apps were already hugely popular in China before taking the U.S. by storm this year with its photo editor that transforms selfies into anime-style cartoons. Facebook was blocked in most parts of China, except for Hong Kong and Macau, eight years ago after rioting broke out in the city of Ürümqi, where Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook to communicate.
Meanwhile, Meitu’s camera lenses are another way for Facebook to add camera features resembling Snapchat’s masks and lenses. Facebook and its photo-sharing app Instagram in the past year have copied Snapchat’s features, including a stories feature and sponsored lenses that make up 50% of Snap’s revenue.