Photo Magic: Facebook Pushes Messenger Users to Send Photos to Friends

By David Cohen Comment

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Facebook Messenger can do a lot more things than simply allow friends to message each other, and soon, it will be able to remind users to share their photos with their friends.

The social network is testing a new facial-recognition feature called Photo Magic for Android users in Australia, with iOS users Down Under to be added later in the week.

Vice president of messaging products David Marcus said in a Facebook post that Photo Magic will be “available in the U.S. soon” if the tests in Australia are successful.

Photo Magic works as follows: If (and only if) users choose to turn on the feature after seeing the prompt alerting them that they have access to it, Photo Magic will scan their devices’ camera rolls for photos that include friends, and then suggest that they send those photos to friends who are included in the images.

If users opt to do so, Photo Magic sends the photos as part of a group thread to everyone included in the images.

Following this initial activity, when users take photos with friends included, Messenger will send them push notifications asking them if they want to share those photos with those friends, which can be done directly via the push notifications.

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Facebook director of product management Peter Martinazzi told TechCrunch:

What we’ve seen is that private sending of photos in Messenger is really popular. About 9.5 billion photos were sent inside Messenger in the past month. It’s growing even faster than Messenger overall, which is growing really fast.

Martinazzi told TechCrunch that he found that users did not want to stop what they were doing to open the camera rolls on their devices, choose photos, open Messenger or other messaging applications and choose friends to send those photos to, adding, “I have to pause whatever I’m doing.” Product manager Lexy Franklin chimed in:

How can we make this faster and simpler? What’s magical is what it’s like in the real world.

Martinazzi also spoke with Mashable, saying that Photo Magic uses the same facial-recognition technology as Facebook’s tag suggestions and its stand-alone Moments app:

It’s all using the same tech on the back end. If you get a new picture, whether you took that picture in your camera app or in a different app, and it goes to your camera roll, then we’ll face-detect on that picture. Then we’ll send you the local notification for you to send that photo (to friends) if you want to.

Readers: What are your initial impressions of Photo Magic? Will you use it if the feature is rolled out to all Messenger users?

Screenshots courtesy of TechCrunch and Mashable.

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