ue to the COVID-19 pandemic, video calling has become essential in the way we work, socialise and learn. However, as the pandemic continues, many are suffering with what has been referred to as “Zoom fatigue.”  

To combat the Zoom fatigue, Facebook is launching a new category of augmented reality experiences that will help transform standard video calls into fun interactive AR parties using its new Multipeer API. 

The company announced this during Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, revealing how this new category will enable users to share interactive AR effects with anyone on a group video call through Messenger. To access the AR effects, users simply search for a fun filter they want to use and then add it to their call. 

To create the vast catalog of AR content that can be shared through messaging and video chats, Facebook is inviting Spark AR Studio creators, or anyone with basic JavaScript skills, to apply for the Spark AR Video Calling Beta program.

Successful applicants will have access to exciting brand new tools and capabilities which they can use to develop and publish their unique augmented reality effects, specifically made for multi-person video calls on Messenger, Instagram, and FB Portal. Developers will also be supplied templates, tutorials, coaching, documentation and other resources to help them build the most incredible AR experiences. For Facebook, it’s all about using AR and video calls as a way to create more meaningful interactions with you and your friends.  

Director of Partnerships for Spark AR, Chris Barbour stated:

“We envision a world that is overlaid with a landscape of virtual objects that helps us share, learn and play together, regardless of the distance between us,” 

AR effects are not new to Facebook, both Facebook Messenger and Instagram and both offer creative AR filters, while Portal already lets you use AR and AR games in real-time as you chat with friends. However, this new update will move that multiperson AR feature over to Instagram and Messenger, delivering the type of interactions Barbour envisions with Facebook users.

During Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, the company outlined its roadmap detailing its commitment to pushing immersive entertainment and communication further by building off current technology. 

Zuckerberg told developers during the conference:

“Some of the most important services in the world started when someone looked at an existing issue, and just found a better way to build. And I’m optimistic that some of the next generation of services are going to start right here with you.”

Facebook’s Spark AR Video Calling Beta is currently a closed beta program. The company is currently reviewing applications on a rolling basis. 

Jun 7, 2021
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