While Snapchat had a head start in making augmented camera effects popular on smartphones, Facebook has spent the past few years in hot pursuit, with no less than three apps offering mobile AR experiences, plus its Portal hardware lineup of smart home devices.

Facebook’s latest effort comes in the form of new AR capabilities for Instagram that enable developers to build camera effects with the Spark AR platform that go beyond face filters.

First up is AR Music, which gives camera effects the ability to react to music. Developers can embed their own tracks or licensed selections, or users can import songs from Instagram’s music library for Stories. However, I’ve found that music picked up by the smartphone’s microphone works as well.

(1) Thermachronic, (2) audioled, (3) On White II

Developers have already shipped a few of these effects, which are rolling out to Android and iOS. Thermachronic by positlabs paints over your camera view with psychedelic patterns that swirl in time to the music. audioled by malf.visuals frames your face with a neon diamond that pulses to the beat. Finally, On White II by @vi.de.or.bit places an abstract sculpture in your physical space that explodes when music kicks in.

The second two superpowers deal with morphing media. Media Library lets users add AR effects to existing photos and videos. For example, Flower Power by ChrisPelk turns your videos into a trippy kaleidoscope.

(1) Flower Power, (2) instan(ot), (3) Green Screen

Conversely, Gallery Picker gives you the opportunity to add your own photos or videos into AR experiences. With instan(ot) by autonommy, you can place an AR Polaroid camera in the real world and have it spit out a virtual copy of one of your photos. Instagram has also published a Green Screen effect that adds your photos or videos to the background of selfies.

To try out these effects, click the embedded links above or search for them in the Effect Gallery. To access the Effect Gallery, scroll to the edge of the AR effects tray and press the “Browse Effects” button. From there, you can search effects by name or creator.

While Snapchat has its own sound recognition and media integration effects, Instagram’s popularity exposes these types of AR effects to a larger audience.

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Cover image and GIFs by Tommy Palladino/Gadget Hacks


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