Facebook is not yet done copying Snapchat features, as code reveals another one is coming, TechCrunch reports.
As it did with Stories, Snaps, and Filters, Facebook is replicating a feature that exists or existed on Snapchat.
The report says the Facebook Android app contains code that lets users build custom, illustrated versions of themselves as stickers in comments and Messenger.
Snap’s subsidiary Bitmoji has used this feature for a while. So, Facebook is pulling out another idea from its rival’s book.
Snap bought Bitmoji two years ago. And it has become one of the most popular features on the platform since then.
Facebook took notice.
Keen-sighted, third-party developer Jane Manchun Wong was first to show screenshots of the code to TechCrunch.
She found the Facebook Avatars in the Android application package. A package is a set of files with unreleased features undergoing several tests.
TechCrunch says the notes show that “Your Facebook Avatar is a whole new way to express yourself on Facebook.”
“Leave expressive comments with personalized stickers. Use your new avatar stickers in your Messenger group and private chats,” the note continues.
We have yet to see if the feature will let users to create their Avatars on their own, or if Facebook will add its new facial recognition technology.
The Race for Avatars
Facebook has been testing avatars for VR over the past three years. From generic blue heads to basic human structures, skin tones and facial features, avatars are now vivid.
The company revealed at last week’s F8 developer conference a way to use facial tracking sensors to map expressions in real time to an avatar of a user, TechCrunch reports. The user appears as themselves inside VR without the headset.
Facebook’s facial recognition has met sharp criticisms from privacy watchdogs. They believe it infringes on user privacy and plan to tell the FTC about it.
Bitstrips launched in 2008 and popularized its custom emoji avatar feature Bitmoji. Snapchat purchased Bitstrips for $64.2 million in 2016.
After integrating Bitmoji into chats as stickers, Snapchat skyrocketed. Now you can use your Bitmoji avatar as an online status indicator, a profile pic, 2D stickers, and 3D characters in Snaps.
The Challenge Ahead
Facebook is rising amid woes, but Snap is struggling. The 2.13 percent growth rate on the latest financial report is its slowest ever. The company’s $231 million revenue for the past quarter missed market estimates by $13 million.
The company’s inability to monetize its userbase and mismanagement is hurting its numbers. And now, they also have to worry about Facebook’s and Instagram’s growing list of existing and unreleased Snapchat-like features.
Facebook is taking less of a risk than Snapchat as a whole. The latter has the market share to experiment and beat the competition, while the latter is trying its best to earn and stay afloat.