Facebook is adding three new dynamic camera features to Messenger, it announced Monday. Users will be able to create and send Boomerangs, use a portrait mode, and integrate AR stickers into photos they send over chat.
These camera features come on the heels of a Messenger redesign that sought to simplify the interface, which Facebook rolled out in October.
Boomerangs were originally a standalone video creating app created by Instagram. A Boomerang is a looped short video that looks like a custom-made gif. They rose to popularity on Instagram, especially once the platform integrated the ability to create Boomerangs into the app itself.
Portrait mode will add focus to the subject, and blur the background. AR stickers lets users place three-dimensional stickers within your photos.
In the redesign, three tabs — chat, people, and discover — replaced the previous five. Incidentally, that made Messenger look more like Snapchat. Now, Messenger’s photo sending options are more playful and robust — an area where Snapchat has previously been dominant. Snapchat pioneered AR lenses and stickers, and Snapchat began testing its own version of Boomerangs in June.
1.3 billion people use Messenger every month, according to Facebook. In the summer of 2017, Facebook rolled out ads on Messenger to start capitalizing on that sizable audience. Now, ads appear in the chat feed alongside messages with your friends. Integrating business bots has also been a priority for Facebook with Messenger; at Facebook’s developer conference in May, it boasted that Messenger hosted 300,000 bots.
The new features are a fun, consumer facing update. But they also show the importance of Messenger to Facebook’s ecosystem. The growth of messaging platforms is outpacing “traditional” social media. And Facebook is making investments in Messenger, and Facebook-owned WhatsApp, to capitalize on people’s love of DMs.
At this point, messenger apps are starting to converge in what they can do. With chat, AR lenses and stickers, photo filters, and even, now, Boomerangs, available in various combinations on on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, one feature isn’t likely to pull you one way or the other.
What you use to send messages will probably just depend on where your friends are. And with 1.3 billion users, those are good odds for Messenger.