Facebook Adds Photo Tools To Compete With Snapchat

Continuing to test Snapchat-like services, Facebook is giving select users the power to make photo frames for profile pictures.

Featured on a new Camera Effects Web site, the service currently requires that frames be approved by Facebook.

The effort first reported by TechCrunch is just the latest effort by Facebook to out-Snapchat Snapchat.

In October, the social giant is finally unveiled what look like Snapchat's animated lenses. Dubbed “masks,” the feature should be available shortly within Facebook's app, as well as the Mentions app for verified users.

Facebook’s filtering ambitions don’t stop there, however. It recently partnered with Prisma -- the Russian app that lets users “filter” social media in the style of artistic schools like Expressionism and Cubism.



Facebook has also recently been hard at work on “style transfer”: a technology that can learn the artistic style of a painting and then apply that style to every frame of a video.

“This is a technically difficult trick to pull off, normally requiring that the video content be sent to data centers for the pixels to be analyzed and processed by AI running on big-compute servers,” Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer, noted in a recent blog post.

The time required for data transfer and processing made for a slower experience, according to Schroepfer. About three months back, he and his team set out to do something distinct: ship AI-based style transfer running live, in real time, on mobile devices.

“This was a major engineering challenge, as we needed to design software that could run high-powered computing operations on a device with unique resource constraints in areas like power, memory and compute capability,” Schroepfer explained.

The result is Caffe2Go, a new deep learning platform that can capture, analyze and process pixels in real time on a mobile device.

All backed by continued investment in AI, Caffe2Go and similar platforms are part of a broader effort to get more people streaming and sharing content on Facebook’s platform -- and less time using rivals apps like Snapchat.

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