AVATAR FACES HIGH RES STOCK IMAGES

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Ditch those generic emoji. Facebook’s new Avatars feature lets you customize a virtual lookalike of yourself for use as stickers in chat & comments. Once you personalize your Avatar’s face, hair, & clothes, they’ll star in a range of frequently updated stickers conveying comtháng emotions và phrases. From Likes to lớn Reactions to lớn Avatars, you could see this as the natural progression of self-expression on Facebook…or as a ruthless clone of Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji selfie stickers.

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Facebook Avatars launches today in Australia for use in Messenger và News Feed comments before coming khổng lồ the rest of the world in late 2019 or early 20trăng tròn. The feature could make Facebook feel more fun, youthful, và visually communicative at a time when the 15-year-old social network increasingly seems drab và uncool. Avatars aren’t quite as đáng yêu or hip to modern slang as Bitmoji. But they could still become a popular way khổng lồ add some flare lớn replies without resorting to lớn cookie-cutter emoticons or clibít GIFs.

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“There’s been a ton of work put in khổng lồ this from the sản phẩm and thiết kế perspective sầu khổng lồ find out, with how many people on Facebook, how to make this as representative sầu as possible” says Facebook Avatars communication manager Jimmy Raimo. From offering religious clothing like hijabs to a rainbow of skin colors and hair styles, Facebook didn’t want any demographic left out. “They’re a bit more realistic so they can be your personal avatar vs trying to lớn make them xinh tươi, funny, & cartoony” Raimo explains.

How To Make A Facebook Avatar

Users will start lớn see a smiley-face button in the News Feed phản hồi composer & Messenger sticker chooser they can tap lớn create their Facebook Avatar. For now, only people in Australia can make Avatars but everyone will be able to see them around Facebook.

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The creation process begins with gender neutral blank people can customize from scratch across 18 traits. For now there’s no option to start with a selfie or protệp tin pic and have sầu Facebook automatically generate you an avatar. Facebook is researching that technique, but Raimo acknowledges that “We want lớn make sure we don’t show you something totally opposite of the photo lớn. There’s sensitivity around facial recognition.”


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The Facebook Avatar customizer


Facebook won’t be monetizing Avatars directly, at least at first. There are no sponsored clothing options from fashion brands or ways to buy fancy jewelry or other accessories for your mini-me. Raimo said Facebook is open to lớn these idea, though. “It would help personalize it for sure & from a business perspective sầu that would be smart.” It’s easy lớn imagine Nike or The North Face paying to lớn let Avatar sport their logos, or fans coughing up cash to wear their favorite labels. Perhaps that’s a micropayment use case for Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency.

Facebook is also considering expanding Avatars for use as profile pics or in Groups — two areas of the tiện ích where you interact with strangers và you might enjoy the anonymity of a 2 chiều drawing instead of a photo lớn of your face. However, Facebook hasn’t deeply considered turning Avatars inkhổng lồ a platsize so you could use them in other apps through an API or keyboard you install on your phone.

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Instead, step 1 was just khổng lồ make sure the Avatar creation flow is easy và most people can make one that actually looks lượt thích them. The News Feed team that built Avatars plans khổng lồ conduct surveys & focus groups lớn help it iterate. When asked about the ability khổng lồ change the perceived age of Avatars khổng lồ be inclusive of Facebook’s older users, Raimo admitted that’s a gap in the hàng hóa that it plans khổng lồ fill by year’s over. Currently there’s no way to lớn add wrinkles so mom and dad’s avatars might look a bit too similar khổng lồ yours.


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Avatars have come a long way since Facebook’s v1 prototype a year ago


The biggest problem with Facebook Avatars is that they’re hopelessly late khổng lồ the market. thangvi.com broke the news that Facebook was working on Avatars a year ago, & that was already a year after I wrote that “Facebook seriously needs its own Bitmoji“. While it’s good that it took the time khổng lồ research how lớn make them inclusive, Snapchat gained a ton of ground in the meantime. Other competitors have cropped up like FaceMoji‘s hyper-realistic animated masks, charicature-style Genies, và Morphin which deepfakes you inlớn popular GIFs.

Bitmoji has been around since 2014, and since Snapchat acquired it in 2016, it’s been a mainstay of the top 10 apps chart. Sensor Tower estimates Bitmoji has been downloaded over 330 million times. And Bitmoji now has its own developer kit that spawning hit social apps like YOLO, games where your character looks like you, & even merchandise và smart watch faces. Like Snapchat Stories, Bitmoji may be too entrenched in popular culture for Facebook Avatars to lớn ever escape their rap as a rip-off.


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Facebook Avatars (left) vs Snapchat Bitmoji (right)


“We’re by no means the first ones here” concedes Facebook News Feed sản phẩm lead Amit Fulay. Yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge opportunity here.”The notion of having digital representation has been around for a really long time. What we’re trying to vày is this at scale.” As was its stance on copying Snapchat Stories, Raimo says that Facebook cares more about building what the most people will use và enjoy than getting credit for inventing something.

The need for humans to lớn expressively represent themselves on the mạng internet is only growing as we shift from text-based to image-based communication. There are still billions of Facebook users without a Bitmoji. Whether for privacy, creativity, or convenience, there’s a wide range of use cases for having a parallel virtual likeness. It could protect our real face from needless exposure lớn the rougher sides of the web. And now Mark Zuckerberg has the foundation of a digital identity layer that could travel with us alongside our data, personalizing every online interaction.