Facebook on Thursday announced a new feature called “Group Effects” for Messenger video calls as well as Messenger Rooms, a videoconferencing facility like Zoom.
Group Effects are new AR (augmented reality) experiences that can augment everyone on a video call at the same time, enabling a more fun and immersive way to connect with friends and family.
“We’re excited to see how creators, like Ross Wakefield who designed the “Blow the Dandelion” effect, expand their creativity with Group Effects, while also helping you deepen connections with friends and family in real-time,” Facebook wrote in a blog post.
“Group Effects provide a more engaging and interactive way to connect with your friends. They also support the creator community and give people more ways to express themselves. Many people rely on video calls to bridge physical distance and interact with the world around them, especially now. With Group Effects, we aim to make those interactions even more exciting and memorable.”
With Group Effects, users can now play multiplayer interactions with their friends, making video calls a shared experience.
Users will be able to choose from a library of over 70 Group Effects, ranging from a game where they compete to build the best burger to an effect with a cute orange cat that enters everyone’s screens.
For the first time, Group Effects enable creators to bring their creative ideas to the Messenger video calling experience. Until now, many AR effects have been a solo experience, like augmenting a photo or video for Stories or Reels, said Facebook.
The new Group Effects can be found within the effects section. To try out the effects, simply open Messenger app, start a video call or create a room, click on the smiley face and open the effects tray, and select Group Effects. From there, you can select an AR experience that applies to all the participants in the video call.
Facebook also plans to expand access to the new Spark AR Multipeer API at the end of this month to let more creators and developers build Group Effects.
“With the Spark Multipeer API, all creators and developers can build dynamic, real-time interactive effects for larger audiences and transform the way people experience video calling,” Facebook added.
The new Group Effects AR feature is now available in Messenger video calls and Messenger Rooms, with the feature coming soon to Instagram.