Facebook definitely isn’t depending solely on Instagram to take on Snapchat. It’s introducing an upgraded camera in Facebook Messenger that promises to not only be simpler, but help you spruce up your shots with Snapchat-style effects. The camera is quicker to access wherever you are in the messaging app, and shooting video is just a matter of holding down the conspicuously-placed shutter button. And the effects? You can now add 3D masks and special effects, such as turning yourself into a holiday-appropriate reindeer or adding a prop. There’s also a new picker that helps you find “thousands” of art objects and effects.
This attempt to jazz up your conversations applies to text, too. If you tap the palette icon near the shutter, you can add art and stickers to your written words.
Both Android and iOS users should see the features arrive in Messenger today, although holiday-themed effects will have to wait until December 21st.
The additions are clearly meant as hedges against Snapchat’s colorful, goofy conversations, although that doesn’t appear to be the only goal. To some extent, this is a response to Apple Messages, Google Allo and other relatively straightforward chat apps introducing some fun-oriented features. Facebook Messenger isn’t strictly boring, but it’s easy to imagine chatters drifting toward the competition if they find conversations more exciting in those rival apps.