Continuing its unrelenting (and mostly successful) campaign against Snapchat, on Tuesday, Facebook announced the addition of "World Effects" to its Messenger app.
If that sounds familiar, it's because the name and general execution mirror Snapchat's popular "World Lens" feature. Like World Lens, World Effects gives Facebook Messenger users the ability to place augmented reality objects in video messages.
The company demonstrated the effect by placing a 3D heart over a dog's head. Even as the dog moved into a sitting position, the virtual heart remained pinned in the correct position over its head, illustrating the possibilities of the new feature.
"We hope you enjoy using these early versions of World Effects in Messenger to bring joy and delight to your communications, especially during this holiday time of year," a message on Facebook's website states, indicating that this is a feature that will likely receive further updates in coming months.
Along with the heart, Facebook is also rolling out other World Effects objects including a unicorn, a robot, and an arrow, as well as word bubbles including "love," "miss you," "bae," and "heart." To enable World Effects, users can open the Messenger Camera and choose the feature from the camera effects swipe menu.
In a separate announcement, Facebook also revealed that it will begin allowing developers to create their own AR masks using AR Studio via its Camera Effects Platform. Developers can find out more about how to use the tool on the AR Studio site. In the coming days, Facebook is also planning to allow AR Studio users to create their own World Effects objects.
Ever since Snapchat turned down Facebook's famous $3 billion acquisition offer, Facebook has been methodically adding Snapchat-like features to its website, mobile app, and to Instagram, mostly focused on photo features.
But now, the battlefield is augmented reality, and with Messenger's new World Effects, Snapchat's World Lens just became a little less special.