The smartphone has made it possible for anyone to easily employ advanced photo-editing tools, for which you'd otherwise need Photoshop skills. One such ability is to swap people's faces in pictures.
There are numerous apps that allow you to create fun images by switching faces with just a few taps. Here are the six best face swap apps.
1. Microsoft Face Swap
Our first app comes from Microsoft Garage, the company's dedicated division for experimental projects. Its app, simply called Face Swap, enables you to extract a face from one picture and superimpose it on another. Unless it's a complicated angle, the result is usually rather accurate.
All you need to do is upload the source and destination images; Microsoft Face Swap will take care of the rest. However, the app only works one way: placing the extracted face from the source onto the destination picture. To do the opposite, you have to redo the whole process.
In addition, the app includes a bunch of other features you might handy. Instead of your own second image, Microsoft Face Swap lets you choose and search from some stock photos too. You'll also find annotation tools if you'd like to add text over the result. Face Swap is a free app with no ads.
Download: Microsoft Face Swap for Android | iOS (Free)
Facebook-owned AR app MSQRD comes with the ability to overlay several goofy masks on your face. One of those switches two people's faces in real-time instead of having to upload multiple files first.
Plus, you have the option to face swap videos along with photos. The app is compatible with both the front and rear-facing cameras. Unfortunately, MSQRD only functions in its live mode, which means you can't swap faces from existing media at all.
Apart from that, MSQRD offers a host of other live filters you can try to quickly produce amusing clips for free.
Download: MSQRD for Android | iOS [Broken URL Removed] (Free)
3. Face Swap Live
This app is similar to Facebook's MSQRD, but has a few notable differences. For starters, Face Swap Live can use the pictures you already have locally stored on your phone. So you can either take a selfie right before applying the effect or import an existing image. And thankfully, there are plenty of effects available.
You can choose from the ones that come preloaded, or like Microsoft Face Swap, search for a particular picture you'd like to morph yourself into. What's more, Face Swap Live works with both videos and stills. Compared to MSQRD, though, Face Swap Live does fall a little short when it comes to accuracy.
Download: Face Swap Live Beta for Android (Free)Download: Face Swap Live Lite for iOS (Free) | Face Swap Live for iOS ($2)
4. Face Swap Booth
Face Swap Booth is for those who want a more comprehensive tool. It comes with a wide variety of options you can employ to precisely tweak images and generate the exact results you want. There are no direct buttons, however. You have to go through a few hoops for swapping faces, but you can unlock a whole lot of capabilities once you've figured out the app.
To begin with, Face Swap Booth lets you swap particular characteristics instead of entire faces. So for instance, you can pick someone else's eyes and smear them on another. In addition, you don't necessarily need a second picture. You can instead select a celebrity template and use that to produce a new meme.
Face Swap Booth also doesn't have a limit, unlike the rest which are restricted to two faces. Since the app can save the facial data of the pictures you upload, you can swap as many faces you want for editing group shots. You'll also find a multitude of utilities for correcting any mistakes Face Swap Booth's algorithms make.
Download: Face Swap Booth for Android | iOS (Free, premium version available)
Snapchat was one of the earliest apps to add a face swapping effect. Unsurprisingly, it has perfected this over the years. The feature lives alongside the rest of the masks Snapchat offers. When in selfie mode, you have to hold down on your face to reveal the lineup.
Scroll until you reach the duos filter and you're all set. Bring in a second person, a pet, or an image from your camera roll and Snapchat will show you the outcome live. You can record a clip by holding down the shutter button or tap it once to take a picture.
Still trying to figure out Snapchat? Our comprehensive guide to Snapchat can help.
Download: Snapchat for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
Last up is MixBooth, a straightforward app that allows you to swap faces with nothing extraneous in the way. It can process only a single exchange at once. So if you'd like to replace multiple faces, you'll have to fire it up several times.
Plus, MixBooth offers a few templates you can utilize instead of uploading a custom secondary image. It doesn't have any manual cropping tools, so you have to rely solely on the app's chops.
Download: MixBooth for Android | iOS (Free)
Have Face Swap Apps Gone Too Far?
The ability to swap faces and produce videos or pictures in seconds without any professional skills certainly sounds like a positive advancement. But there are numerous downsides to these widely-available functions as well.
Deepfake videos are one such negative consequence. For the uninitiated, we have a detailed guide on Deepfakes to understand how destructive they can be.
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About The Author
Shubham Agarwal (146 Articles Published)
Based out of Ahmedabad, India, Shubham is a freelance technology journalist. When he's not writing on whatever's trending in the world of technology, you will find him either exploring a new city with his camera or playing the latest game on his PlayStation.
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Chinese “DeepFake” App Goes Viral, Renewing Concerns About Potential Misuse of Face-Swapping Tech
“DeepFake” face-swapping technology created a buzz a couple of years back when a series of fake celebrity porn videos generated by the method spread rapidly across the Internet. Deepfake’s unseemly side triggered widespread fears and concerns regarding misuse of the new tech, although its propagation was limited by the relatively advanced programming expertise required to perform convincing face-swapping.
Well, that tech threshold has now been significantly lowered. A recently released Chinese deepfake mobile application, “ZAO,” enables just about anyone to easily swap faces with popular characters such as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, Marilyn Monroe’s Lorelei Lee in Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Jack Dawson in The Titanic, and so on.
ZAO for iOS and Android was launched last week and became a runaway hit, with a fresh crop of homegrown face-swapping videos flooding Chinese social media sites like Weibo and WeChat. In an official statement, ZAO’s creators said they spent some two million Chinese yuan (approximately US$280,000) on servers in just one night to process the huge volume of requests.
The company that developed ZAO is owned by Momo, whose dating and messaging mobile app is known as “China’s Tinder.” Momo went public on the Nasdaq four years ago and is valued at US$7.63 billion.
To face-swap on the ZAO platform a user first uploads a portrait photo, and is then prompted to blink, open their mouth, bow their head and so on to enrich their facial information. The user can swap their face with one of the characters in ZAO’s celebrity library to generate a shareable video or GIF of up to 10 seconds. Friends can remotely collaborate on ZAO by swapping their faces into the same video.
The tech at the heart of all this face-swapping is generative adversarial networks (GAN), a powerful AI framework comprising two neural nets which challenge each other to produce increasingly realistic fakes. Even the most popular face-swapping desktop applications however, such as DeepFaceLab and FaceSwap, still require users to leverage hardware, datasets, and programming skills to extract features from videos, train models, and finalize their creations.
ZAO’s rapid rise is in large part due its ease-of-use: all you need to run the app is a smartphone and a selfie. On August 31, ZAO was China’s 2nd most downloaded iOS entertainment app and ranked 7th on Weibo’s “Hot Search” real-time list of hottest discussions based on users’ search results.
ZAO’s popularity however has brought with it concerns about the app’s user agreement, which grants ZAO, its affiliates, and its users the “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable and licensable rights worldwide” to morph or edit their content (such as replacing a face or voice in a short video with another person’s face or voice) and disseminate content.
Facial recognition technology has been widely adopted for mobile payment systems in China, and many netizens are concerned their facial information could be misused for identity theft. A typical post on Weibo last week warned: “If your facial information is hacked, hackers might be able to access your AliPay (Alibaba’s digital wallet) in a minute.”
The ZAO user agreement also attempts to absolve the company of any liability regarding portrait rights, stating that the user bears the legal responsibility for any content they post on the platform. Jun Wang, chief partner at Beijing Ta Law Firm, told Chinese media “What ZAO means is that the legality of the user content and the authorization of the copyright should be resolved by the user. Otherwise, the user has to be responsible for all legal liabilities.” Wang noted however that despite the language in the user agreement, it cannot fully exempt the ZAO platform from legal responsibility.
This April, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress began drafting a Civil Code Personality Rights document which forbids infringing on the portrait rights of others by means of digital technology forgery.
Another related public concern is deepfake’s potentially serious threat to credibility, particularly involving fake video evidence. To assuage those fears ZAO only enables modifications to its own library of video clips.
Synced notes that last weekend ZAO removed the “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable and licensable rights worldwide” clause from its user agreement. Yesterday, ZAO released an official statement pledging that the company will not collect or store the biometric facial information of its users.
Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen
Machine Intelligence | Technology & Industry | Information & Analysis