This weekend, all of your friends transformed one by one into animated Pixar-inspired characters. This is not a feverish dream, and you are not alone.
On Thursday, Snapchat posted a Cartoon 3d style lens, which uses AR to make you look like a background character from “Frozen”. Naturally, while TikTok’s cartoon AR effects aren’t as compelling as Snapchat’s, people are turning to TikTok to share videos of themselves as Disney Princesses, because of course they are. .
This isn’t the first time a Disney-style AR trend has gone viral. As of August 2020, Snapchat had 28.5 million new installs, which was his biggest month since May 2019, when it recorded 41.2 million new installations. It may not be a coincidence that in early August 2020, Snapchat released the Cartoon face lens, which users realized could be used to ‘Disneyfy’ their pets – the # tagdisney dog got 40.9 million views across all platforms on TikTok. Then Snapchat hit viral gold again in December, when they released the Cartoon lens, which made results more realistic for human faces than the previous iteration.
Snapchat’s global installs continued to increase month-over-month through the remainder of 2020, according to Sensor Tower, although installs declined slightly in December. Still, Snapchat recorded 36 million downloads this month. Now, after the new 3D Cartoon Style lens has gone viral again, Snapchat has reached number 6 in the App Store Free Apps ranking, compared to TikTok’s number 2. Still, Snapchat downloads in May were 32 million, up from 34 million in April, while TikTok recorded 80.3 million installs in May, up from 59.3 million in April.
But there’s a new app in slot # 1 that also had an impact on this weekend’s cartoon explosion. Released in March, Voila AI Artist is yet another platform that turns us into comic versions of ourselves. Unlike the augmented reality based effects on Snapchat or TikTok, Voilà is a photo editor. Users upload a selfie, and after watching an ad (the ad-free version costs $ 3 per week), it reveals how you would look like a cartoon.
Voila AI Artist was only downloaded 400 times worldwide in March 2021. In May, the app exceeded one million downloads, and in the first two weeks of this month alone, the app was downloaded more of 10.5 million times.
Again, like repeating iterations of the ‘Disneyfy’ trend, apps like Voilà aren’t new. FaceApp went viral in 2019, showing people what they’ll look like when they’re old, graying, and wrinkled. The app has become the focus of a privacy controversy, since it uploaded users’ photos to the cloud to edit their selfies with AI. FaceApp does A declaration that it “might store updated photos in the cloud” for “performance and traffic reasons”, but that “most images” are deleted “within 48 hours.” Yet this ambiguous language has set off the alarm bells, prompting us to reflect on the potentially damaging implications of seeing what we will look like sixty years from now. Two years earlier, FaceApp had implemented a “hotness” filter, which made users’ skin lighter – FaceApp apologized for its Racist AI. Voila, which is owned by Wemagine.AI LLP in Canada, has also been criticized for the eurocentrism of its AI. As these apps gain in popularity, they can also maintain some of our culture’s most damaging biases.
Like FaceApp, Voila requires an internet connection to use the app. In addition, his terms state that users grant to the company “a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable and transferable license to host, store, use in any way, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish and distribute Uploaded and Generated content. ”Basically this means that if you upload an image to the platform, Voila has the right to use it, but they don’t own it. This is not abnormal for these apps – when we upload photos to Instagram, for example, we also grant the platform the right to use our images.
It’s no wonder that as Voilà rises to number one in the App Store, Snapchat has upgraded its Pixar-inspired AR lens. Facebook’s own Spark AR platform is deploy new features, and last week at WWDC, Apple announced a major update of RealityKit, its software AR. But these trends reveal more about our growing comfort with face-changing AR than our nostalgia for Disney.