Facebook rolls out Photo Magic facial recognition for Messenger

Facebook delivers facial recognition and frozen stickers for Christmas.

Facebook has brought its facial recognition feature for Messenger out of testing as well as new ways to customise messages.

Facebook has rolled out Photo Magic, its facial recognition feature for Messenger, just in time for the frenzy of photo-sharing at Christmas and New Years. Facebook has been testing the feature in Australian for the past month and has now released it more widely.

The feature relies on the same facial recognition technology it uses for suggesting tags in photos and which also powers its Moments photo app, whose launch was stalled in Europe due to regulators concerns over its lack of an opt-in option.

Facebook doesn't say where Photo Magic is launching, only that it's now available to "more people". However, the feature can be switched on or off at any time and users can control whether their face is recognised in friends' photos. This can be controlled in the timeline and tagging section in settings.

Photo Magic aims to remove the friction in sending photos of friends. The feature recognises a user's friends in photos and automatically creates a group thread to share the pic. As the company has previously boasted, 9.5 billion photos are sent on Messenger each month and Photo Magic accelerates the process on mobile by cutting the process down to two taps. Messenger users can expect to see prompts encouraging then to try Photo Magic.

The wider roll out of Photo Magic follows its recent moved to phase out Photo Syncing on Facebook, at least in the US, where its nudging users across to Moments. The move mirrors when it broke out Messenger from the main Facebook app. Moments however remains unavailable in Europe.

Facebook has also introduced new ways to customise private messages with colour choices, emoji and nicknames. And for the Christmas season, users can send Santa, Christmas tree or snow-related stickers.

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