Facebook app users in Brazil and Canada were surprised to see a brand new feature implemented at the top of their screens on Friday, a live camera replacing the usual status bar. By clicking on the camera, they could easily record a photo or video with never-before-seen (on Facebook) features like face filters in the theme of the Rio Olympics.
The test will reportedly run during the Olympic games, and will allow users to personalize their spirit for the event. Despite looking nearly identical to Snapchat‘s filters, however, Facebook product manager Sachin Monga said that many of the features were already in the service, but hadn’t been optimized until now.
“We had a lot of these things before, like we had a way to take a photograph in Facebook, and we did have a lot of these frames and filters. But it was really buried and super-cumbersome. So a lot of the strategy is bringing these things to be a lot more accessible for people, because this is how people want to share right now.”
This update comes only days after Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) began using the same Stories formula as Snapchat. Monga said that the shift from text to photo is was inevitable, however, and that sites like Facebook and Instagram are only trying to keep up with the trend.
“Obviously, the shift from text to photos to videos isn’t just happening at Facebook, it’s happening everywhere, Instagram and Snapchat included. Every single social app needs a composer aspect, and the modern version is centered around a camera. I think it’s as simple as that.”
The Canadian test is intended to teach Facebook about the usage habits of those with the new filters, so that they can better implement the feature as a whole further down the road. Canada was chosen, Monga said, because of its 22 million Facebook users and 17 million Facebook app participants.
Visit The Star to see the new filters in action.