Facebook first announced that it would allow Instagram users to create their own AR effects at its F8 developers conference this spring. But the news was overshadowed a bit by all of the other big announcements. Since then, Spark AR has been shared with select Instagram users in a closed beta. Today, it's released to the wild as a public beta.
To find user-made filters on Instagram, you can scroll to the end of the filter tray in Stories and click the "Browse More Effects" option. When you're ready to start on your own creation, you can download the free Spark AR Studio on Mac OS or Windows. Facebook promises creating filters is easy, thanks to drag-and-drop functionality. Sharing should be easy, too. When a creator's followers see a new filter or effect, they can share it in their stories. Their followers can do the same thing. That could help filters go viral, and thanks to a small tag on the bottom, the original creator should get full credit.
Facebook isn't the first to let its users create their own filters. Snapchat opened access to its Lens Studio early last year, and it later created Lens Explorer to make it easier to find user-made AR lenses. While Spark AR for Instagram is still in beta, it's likely a change that will stick around.