Meta announced today users can now use their avatar to answer and make video calls on Instagram and Messenger. The company says the new functionality will allow users to take part in video calls if they aren’t camera ready. The result is an animated video call where you and your friend look at and talk to each other, without actually seeing each other.
“We’ve all been there: Got a call but your hair looks messy,” Meta wrote in a blog posts. “Or you just cried while rewatching From Scratch. Sometimes, we are not camera ready. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a third option between camera off and camera on so you feel a little more present on calls? Your Meta Avatar Cue.
The idea of a real-time call using your avatar can be a welcome addition for people who don’t want to show their face on certain video calls. On the other hand, there can be seen a rather strange and creepy way of communicating with friends or family members, when you can only communicate via voice calls.
The new functionality is available on iOS and Android.
As part of today’s announcement, Meta shared a few more updates regarding avatars. The company shared that they are testing an easier way to create avatars on Facebook and WhatsApp where you can take a selfie directly and receive a suggested avatar option generated from your selfie. You can choose from these options and personalize it further to best represent yourself.
Meta also announced that you can now share animated avatar stickers on Instagram and Facebook Stories and Reels, Facebook comments, and message threads 1:1 on Messenger and Instagram. You can send stickers when your avatar performs certain actions, such as waving, dancing, or lightly clapping.
Additionally, Meta is rolling out the ability for user avatars to hang out with their friends’ avatars on stickers. You can now tag multiple friends to Facebook Stories, so you and your friends’ avatars can appear on one sticker together. The new functionality is called “Social Stickers” and lets you share your own and one friend’s stickers in a 1:1 message thread.
Meta says users may start noticing that the VR avatar looks a bit different than it does in its app, noting that the proportions are more proportional.
“No one wants to look like a cake pop, and now, you don’t have to,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We standardize how our avatar looks across all of our platforms, so how you appear in VR will match how you look on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Not only does that mean your avatar will look a bit more realistic, it also means you’ll be better able to show off your fit because the focus won’t be on your cute oversized noggin.”
Meta revealed in April that more than one billion avatars have been created across its platforms. The company first introduced avatars in 2020 as a way to compete with Snap’s Bitmoji and has continuously updated them since then to make them appear more realistic. In today’s blog post, Meta said “avatars give us a glimpse of the opportunities for self-expression that the metaverse will provide.”