Instagram moves ever closer to Snapchat with Face Filters and an eraser tool
Instagram’s copy of Snapchat is almost complete. As part of its latest update, the Facebook-owned app has added selfie filters that look and act like its ephemeral rival’s iconic Lenses.
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Called Face Filters, the feature is “an easy way to turn an ordinary selfie into something fun and entertaining,” according to Instagram. “Whether you’re sitting on the couch at home or out and about, face filters help you express yourself and have playful conversations with friends.”
Examples given include maths equations swirling above your head, and koala ears that move and twitch. The Face Filters work with the both the rear and front-facing cameras, like on Snapchat, so aren’t just for selfies and there will be eight filters to choose from at launch. These filters additionally work with Instagram’s Boomerang app, and all can be sent through Instagram’s direct messaging.
To add a filter, open the camera and tap the new face icon in the bottom right-hand corner.
Other new features in version 10.21, being rolled out gradually for both iOS and Android from today, include Rewind and an eraser brush.
As the name suggests, the Rewind tool lets you make videos that play in reverse and it joins the other camera formats Boomerang and Hands-Free. Instagram says you can use it to “drop a microphone and watch it fly up into your hand,” or to “capture a fountain in motion and share a rewind of the water floating back up.” Boomerang works in a similar way, but instead loops the short burst of recording back and forth.
To add more context to your story, Instagram has added a hashtag sticker available when you click the sticker icon at the top right of your screen. You can select and customise the hashtag before adding it to your story. Like with mentions, you can add hashtags using regular text as well and people watching your story will be able to tap the hashtag sticker or text to go to the hashtag page and explore related posts.
Lastly, the eraser brush has been added to the drawing tools menu. It lets you remove things you have drawn, or experiment with removing colours from an image. It follows the launch of Snapchat’s own eraser earlier this month that lets you remove objects from a photo by tapping the scissors tool.
“From the very first photo filter to Boomerang and more, Instagram has always been the place you can go to turn regular moments into something you can’t wait to share,” Instagram explained. “Now, you have more fun and easy ways to express yourself and connect with the people you care about most.”
This update is the latest in a long line of incremental changes that have been made to the app in the past year. Instagram Stories launched in August 2016 and has since added Live video and support for Direct Messages.
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More recently, Instagram added custom geostickers, sticker pinning and a timer. Instagram first brought custom geostickers to New York, Jakarta, and Saõ Paulo in April and is now expanding them to London, Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago.
The hands-free timer does what it says on the tin. It lets you take photos hands-free. Elsewhere, the selfie sticker feature was designed to utilise the front-facing camera. As part of the update, when you take a photo/video and tap the smiley face shown on screen, you’ll see a new selfie sticker featuring your profile photo, that lets you capture a mini selfie. Earlier this year, Instagram additionally added the option to like and reply to individual comments.
To create your own story, take a photo or video and add filters by swiping left and right. The relevant text, drawing and emoji options are shown in the top left-hand corner. Press the “tick” icon to automatically add the post to a Story in chronological order.
These posts can also be removed, and for the first time Instagram lets you select your audience. Previously, it was an “all-or-nothing” approach, but Stories lets you handpick who you share posts with, and importantly who you choose not to.