Tech Crunch – Meta brings 3D avatars to Instagram, rolls out new options for Facebook and Messenger
Meta is bringing its 3D avatars to Instagram and is also rolling out updated avatars to Facebook and Messenger, the company announced on Monday. Users in the United States, Canada and Mexico can now show up as their virtual selves in stickers, feed posts, Facebook profile pictures and more.
Today’s update adds Cochlear implants and over-the-ear hearing aids in several colors on all platforms, including VR. The update also brings wheelchairs, which can appear in stickers on Facebook, in Messenger chats and in Instagram Stories and DMs. Meta is also improving the look of avatars by adjusting certain facial shapes to make them appear more authentic. The company says it plans to continue to add more items to the avatar editor.
“We’re updating Meta avatars with a lot more expressions, faces and skin tones, as well as wheelchairs and hearing aids,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement posted to his Facebook profile.. “We’re starting to experiment with digital clothing too. You can use your avatar across Quest, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. One day you’ll have multiple avatars ranging from expressive to photorealistic. Looking forward to sharing more soon.”
With the new update, users can now bring the same avatar across all Meta platforms, including VR. Any changes users make to their avatar on Facebook and Messenger will automatically appear on Instagram as well, and vice versa. Users still have the option to create different avatars for different platforms. Meta says that over time, its goal is to make it easier for users to move their avatar from place to place and plans to share more updates on this in the future.
Meta is also partnering with the NFL to give fans a way to celebrate their favorite team ahead of the Super Bowl. From now until February 28th, users can choose to support the Cincinnati Bengals or the Los Angeles Rams via their avatars. There’s also a neutral Super Bowl LVI shirt for users who don’t want to pick a team.
“VR and Quest are key parts of our metaverse vision, but we see the metaverse as an interconnected digital world, one that bridges VR and AR, in addition to more familiar platforms like your phone and computer,” said Aigerim Shorman, Meta’s general manager for avatars and identity, in a blog post about the new launch. “Rolling out avatars across our platforms is an early step towards making this a reality. We hope your new virtual self enables you to be represented online the way you want.”
The company first launched avatars in 2020 as a way to compete with Snap’s Bitmoji and has been continuously updating them since. For instance, these new changes come as Meta launched new avatar options for eyes, noses, beards and hairstyles last year with the goal of making them more customizable and diverse. Meta declined to share any numbers related to avatar adoption to date, however.
Today’s update comes as Meta is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on February 2nd. The company plans to break out the results of its AR and VR hardware unit for the first time.