November 8, 2016
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery it’s said, and that’s what’s going on among social media platforms. Facebook’s WhatsApp is experimenting with a Status feature that is basically a photocopy of Snapchat Stories, sharing photos, videos and emoji. Elsewhere, Periscope is copying both Facebook and Snapchat, by offering its own animated augmented reality selfie masks. The first ones offered, which allow the user to look like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, have been available throughout the duration of the election.
TechCrunch notes that BGR India spotted the WhatsApp Status feature, which is “currently available to registered public beta testers of WhatsApp who are using a rooted Android or iOS device.” Although users have always been able to set their status on WhatsApp, the new Status tab is “a whole additional channel aimed at encouraging users to share ephemeral and primarily visual content with their friends.”
Similar to Snapchat Stories, WhatsApp users are offered tools to “augment” the content. In the beta app, the Status content lasts for 24 hours, with no way to manually delete it or change how long it lasts. Users are able to select contacts, however.
This summer, Facebook’s Instagram also debuted a “near carbon copy feature” of Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories, and the company is testing a similar Messenger Day this fall. The reason is clear: after Snapchat introduced Stories three years ago, it’s garnered “massive quantities of daily video views,” reported at 10 billion as of April. Facebook’s Status feature would also be “exactly the sort of conduit where businesses on the WhatsApp platform” could start advertising.
TechCrunch also reports that Periscope has launched its first animated AR selfie masks, aimed at both entertaining users and drawing in those too shy to broadcast. In addition to the recently released Clinton and Trump masks, Periscope chief executive Kayvon Beykpour said “more advanced tools” are coming soon.
Snapchat made masks “the flagship feature” of its app, and “Facebook quickly copied them by acquiring selfie mask startup MSQRD and later adding them to Facebook Live.”
Periscope, known for “serious citizen journalism,” is adding masks to attract a more mainstream audience, but will most likely have a tougher time succeeding, since both Snapchat and Facebook “acquired selfie mask startups to jumpstart their features, and have been aggressively hiring augmented reality engineers.”
Periscope’s parent company Twitter is “financially strapped” and therefore doesn’t have the same resources to throw at masks. But, adds TechCrunch, “at least getting the first masks out the door helps Periscope show its intent to adopt augmented reality, which reduces differentiation for its competitors and could attract AR talent to the company.”