Facebook announces Spark AR updates to expand features and Augmented Reality capabilities for Instagram

In Augmented Reality News 

May 27, 2020 – After recently rolling out several new Spark AR features and capabilities, Facebook is today announcing the release of version 89 of its Spark AR Studio. The company states that the updates help to simplify and ease AR creation, and they open up new creative possibilities for AR experiences on Instagram.

The updates include expanding AR capabilities for Instagram with music, plus the addition of a feature that allows users to augment previously taken photos and videos, as well as some improvements for effect personalization.

AR Music

Creators can now build AR effects that respond to music. To do this, creators can import and use their own legally licensed music files or they can let users pick a free track from Instagram’s music library. This feature is currently only available for Android users today, but will be coming to iOS soon, according to Facebook. For more information on making effects that respond to music and sound, Facebook has published a tutorial.

Media Library

Facebook is also introducing a new capability that enables creators to build AR effects that augment photos and videos that people have previously captured with the Instagram camera or that are saved to a device’s media library. This feature sounds exciting, as it means users won’t initially have to be in the Instagram app to apply filters and effects. Instead, they will be able to add augmented reality effects to old photos and videos stored on their devices, opening up an entirely new way in which users can share memories and old content. The media library functionality effectively turns Instagram into an AR effects editing tool for any image on a device and does not restrict the application effects only to photos taken in-app.  

Gallery Picker

Gallery Picker allows creators to publish AR effects to Instagram that people can then personalize with their own images, enabling green screen-style effects. With this new capability, people can transport themselves into any environment and place they want. More information on the Gallery Picker can be found here, or users can try it out today on Instagram with the Green Screen effect (opens in mobile).

AR Stickers Templates

Following last year’s introduction of Spark AR Studio templates, Facebook has continued to add new templates to help creators, at any skill level, find and build a range of AR effects. The company recently added new templates for 2D and 3D stickers, which help people create world AR effects using plane tracking to place images and objects in a scene.

The new sticker templates also use Instagram’s Native UI Picker, which gives people more options for the types of stickers they can pick. The new sticker templates can be found in the ‘Create New’ tab of the welcome screen in Spark AR Studio. Further documentation can be found here.

New Surfaces for AR Effects on Instagram

Finally, Facebook is allowing creators to learn how their published effects are being used through its Effect Stories feature. Effect Stories provide creators with better visibility into effect adoption and usage, plus how a new surface on Instagram is showcasing creator effects related to cultural themes. Effect Stories contain a collection of up to 25 Stories from Instagram users that used a specific effect. Creators can find their own Effect Stories on the ‘Effects’ tab on their profile.

Effect Gallery

Instagram recently launched a new surface in the Effect Gallery to showcase AR effects from creators. For example, in April, promoted effects included Instagram’s Stay Home initiative, and more recently, for its Graduation celebrations. In the future, Instagram will continue to showcase AR effects related to culturally relevant themes and moments. 

Today’s Spark AR Studio (v89) update is available now for download on all macOS and Windows compatible computers.

Image credit: Facebook / Instagram

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.