Instagram Copies Snapchat Again, This Time With Filters for Your Face

Swirling math equations and koala ears in augmented reality

Instagram's 'face filters' allow it to offer yet another one of Snapchat's signature features. Instagram
Headshot of Marty Swant

It was only a matter of time.

Today, Instagram finally introduced augmented reality face filters for Instagram Stories, bringing the app closer than ever before to the signature capabilities of Snapchat, which popularized similar technology for a mainstream audience a couple of years ago.

For starters, the Facebook-owned app has unveiled eight filters which let users add features to their videos and photos such as swirling math equations and koala ears on their head. And while they were designed and built by Instagram, the underlying technology was developed by MSQRD, a startup that Facebook bought last year for an undisclosed price. The filters also use Facebook’s applied machine learning technology, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other execs teased last month at its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif.

Along with the filters, Instagram also debuted a few other features, such hashtag stickers and a “Rewind” option that lets users record a video and then have it play backwards when posted.

“Drop a microphone and watch it fly up into your hand. Capture a fountain in motion and share a rewind of the water floating back up,” according to an Instagram blog post announcing the additional tools. “Experiment with some magic tricks of your own and defy the laws of physics wherever you are.”

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.