From Mark Zuckerberg's stage-setting vision statement to specific product announcements, a big part of Facebook's day one F8 keynote was about establishing itself as a platform for augmented-reality experiences that people can explore on their phones. And a big part of that is AR Studio, a new MacOS application for creating interactive, entertaining AR effects of the sort that started out as a signature Snapchat feature but are rapidly showing up all over.
Facebook engineering director Ficus Kirkpatrick told me that the company's goal is not to create scads of these effects itself but rather to provide a platform for many others to do so at vast scale. With AR Studio, he says, "Simple things are easy to do, and hard things are possible to do," making the software appealing both to artists and technical types. He adds that it has rich potential to add capabilities in the years to come: "I say to the team a lot, 'Photoshop is 30 years old. AR Studio came out today.'"