Written by Wei Rong Loh, Melantha Tan and Naini Gupta.

AR Magic with Starbucks Holiday Cups

It's a challenging task to impress fans every year with new holiday cup designs, but Starbucks has done it yet again by bringing its four limited-edition cups to life through Instagram, using augmented reality (AR) effects. The holiday-themed AR effects are built using Facebook’s Spark AR platform.  

Sharing holiday-themed cups on social media is a tradition for avid Starbucks drinkers, and AR effects allow Starbucks to add on a new layer of fun and interactivity to the experience. 

Here's how you can join in the fun: 

  1. Open Instagram and navigate to the Starbucks profile and click on the effect gallery (the third button from the left). 
  2. Select an AR effect and click “try it” to open your camera.
  3. Point the camera at one of the holiday cups and watch as the magic unfolds. 
  4. Capture photos or videos of the experience and share it on your Instagram Story.

Facebook Quietly Releases New Meme-Making App: Whale

Enter Facebook's latest attempt to woo younger users: Whale, the app bills itself as an easy way to overlay special effects over text and photos. Users can then quickly share the memes they make on Facebook’s other apps, like Instagram and Messenger, according to App Store screenshots. Whale was released last week and is currently only available in the Canadian App Store.

It seems pretty obvious which demographic this app is aimed at. As with Threads, the Instagram version of Messenger, it seems Facebook is pulling out every stop in its attempt to reach meme-addicted youths. 

Facebook’s internal NPE (New Product Experimentation) team has been busy churning out apps for the younger demographic. Whale is the latest app from NPE, following on from music app AUX and chat app Bump. 

The Process Behind Instagram's Explore Page

Instagram shares its behind-the-scenes AI that creates your fresh & juicy Explore Tab content. Unlike your feed, Explore needs to be algorithmically driven, because recommending new content to users on an image-based network is challenging. With Instagram’s traffic, it’s impossible to keep track of every photo individually. Instead, they identify which accounts are topically linked by studying user behaviour - when a user likes several posts in a row, they're more likely to be linked and the algorithm feeds on this information. 

Their machine learning system makes it easy to find more similar accounts by positioning them in a virtual space, and the closer two are in that space, the closer they are topically. This is followed by a triple-layered filtering process that creates your personal Explore tab.

Finally, Instagram ensures that the content on the Explore page is safe and appropriate for a global community of all ages, using a variety of signals that filters out content that is identified unsuitable. So you see safe content, no 🍑.