Written by Erasmus William, Monisha Kishin and Benn Tan.
A new AR feature on Instagram Stories turns your phone into a photo booth.
Technology blogger and app researcher Jane Manchun Wong uncovered an unreleased augmented reality feature that essentially places the user in front of a green screen.
The new feature, which appears to be called “background”, allows you to select an image from your camera roll and use it as the backdrop for the Stories Camera. As seen in the screenshot shared by Wong, your actual surroundings are replaced by the selected image.
The overall feel of the feature is similar to a green screen. However, the beta version is only limited to static images. Nonetheless, the feature looks fairly impressive. The end result looks pretty seamless — there aren't any weird lines or gaps between the edge of Wong's face and the photo backdrop.
Instagram did not stop there. Wong also stumbled upon an AR Effect Sticker.
Instagram is clearly looking for new ways to spice up its app and now they are diving deeper into augmented reality. Given the popularity of AR filters, it’s not difficult to imagine influencers finding all sorts of creative ways to use this new “Background” feature.
Icons are coming to Twitter replies
You may now find small microphones, small people and at (@) icons on your tweet replies, with the launch of a new test on Twitter that labels notable replies with special icons.
In an attempt to make the platform more user-friendly, particularly for lengthier tweets, these small, light gray and white in color icons prevent additional clutter from forming in the already text-heavy interface. If the original poster replies somewhere in the thread, their tweet will feature a small microphone icon next to their profile picture. Other tweets from those mentioned in the original tweet or replies from existing followers will be labelled with the at (@) symbol and a small person icon with a checkmark by it, respectively.
As seen from the “twttr”, this latest minor change is part of a larger series of things Twitter is tweaking to make its service simpler and more approachable. While these are fun and useful additions, there remains debate around the necessity of these changes, given the platform’s simple core value proposition of publishing a public status update and replying to others who have posted. Not as obvious however, is the platform’s ongoing battle with problems typical of an unmoderated public forum - which may be driving its challenges around user growth.
Practice a New Language By Chatting With People on Twitch
Duolingo, the popular language-learning platform has recently announced a partnership with Twitch to begin what’s termed a Duolingo Verified Streamer program. Partnering with 12 multilingual streamers of different practices (ranging from household cooking to online First Person Shooters), the intent is to get users to practice respective languages with their streamers to help them learn faster. As they say, immersion is key to learning a new language.
Each streamer is part of its Global Ambassador Program, a network of global volunteers that helps Duolingo host events and advance towards its causes. Launching with DuoLingo’s core languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Arabic, the company promises to add more language and streamers in the near future.