Facebook Messenger is adding new AR experiences for group video calls

Facebook Messenger is rolling out new augmented reality (AR) experiences to video calls and Messenger Rooms, the platform’s videoconferencing feature. The company notes that the new “Group Effects” feature will be coming to Instagram soon.

Group Effects work for everyone on the video call, as Facebook says it’s aiming to make AR effects a shared experience. Users can now choose from a library of more than 70 group effects, including a game where you compete to build the best burger the fastest.

To check out the new Group Effects, start a video call or create a room, tap the smiley face to open the effects tray and then select group effects. From there, you’ll be able to select an AR experience that will be applied to everyone on the call.

Additionally, Facebook says it’s expanding access to its Spark AR API at the end of the month to let more creators and developers build group effects.

Image Credits: Facebook

“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,” the company said in a blog post.

Facebook Messenger is also rolling out new “suggested word effects” that will trigger an animation within the chat. For instance, now when you send standalone messages like “goodnight” or “congrats,” you’ll see an option to create a word effect for that term. Facebook first launched word effects in August for special holidays and inside jokes but is now expanding the feature to include everyday phrases. Suggested word effects are rolling out to all iOS users and will be available on Android in the coming weeks.

The company is also launching new James Bond “soundmojis” following the release of “No Time to Die” in theatres. There are also new chat themes, including a “care” theme and ghostly Halloween themes. Facebook Messenger will also roll out four haunted world AR effects in time for Halloween.

Group AR in Messenger arrives as the company is clearly making a bigger push around “metaverse” efforts in general, and is in keeping with the theme of creating shared virtual experiences.