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Facebook Messenger now lets an entire group share an AR experience

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Facebook Messenger is adding “group effects” that allow everyone on a video call to participate in the same augmented reality experience at the same time. The effects are available now across Messenger video calls as well as Messenger Rooms, the service’s Zoom-like videoconferencing feature, and are coming soon to Instagram, the company says.

There are over 70 group effects available at launch, including a game where players compete to build a virtual burger, and another where a virtual orange cat photobombs the call. It’s a shift from the service’s existing augmented reality features, which tend to only apply to one participant at a time. Facebook says developers will be able to build more group effects using its Spark AR API from the end of the month.

Alongside the shared group AR experiences, Facebook also announced a collection of smaller features coming to its chat services this month. New “word effects” will allow iOS Messenger users (and eventually Android users) to trigger an animation in a chat when a specific phrase is used. For example, in August the company showed how messaging the phrase “Happy Birthday!” could be set to trigger the party popper emoji to fly up the screen. There are also new “Soundmojis” to tie in with No Time to Die, as well as chat themes and Halloween artwork for Messenger chats and Instagram DMs.

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