Snapchat ‘Dreams’ turns your selfies into AI-generated avatars

Snapchat Dreams is only available to users in Australia and New Zealand for now  (Snap)
Snapchat Dreams is only available to users in Australia and New Zealand for now (Snap)

Did you notice your pals masquerading as fairies and superheroes online earlier this year?

No, it wasn’t because they had turned into digital artists overnight. For a fleeting moment, seemingly everyone was feeding their selfies through AI-powered image generators.

Newfound apps like Lensa AI were suddenly all the rage. Portraits of people in comic book and Renaissance art styles flooded Instagram and Facebook.

Oddly, the biggest social media apps failed to capitalise on the craze at first. But, they’re jumping on the bandwagon now.

After TikTok launched its own AI avatar creator in April, Snapchat is now following suit with a feature called ‘Dreams’.

Here’s how it works: You upload a series of selfies, which the generative AI model transforms into fantastical avatars.

The end result looks like a modern take on the face-in-hole boards, or cutout boards, that are a familiar sight at funfairs. Your face is visible, but you look like an elf or mermaid in front of an animated background adorned with fluttering butterflies or a shimmering ocean. Later on, you’ll even be able to take selfies with another friend.

To start, Dreams is only available to Snapchatters in Australia and New Zealand, but Snap says it will come to more countries soon.

Alas, the feature isn’t entirely free. You’ll get eight complimentary AI selfies and have to pay for the rest.

Snapchat has been banking on AI to keep users locked to its app with mixed results. Earlier this year, it launched a ChatGPT-style chatbot that can answer questions and dish out advice. However, the bot spooked users on separate occasions, with some peeved off by the fact that they couldn’t delete the bot without paying for a subscription. The AI freaked out users again earlier this month when a “glitch” caused it to post a story.

On the surface, Dreams appears to have a better shot at success than the chatbot. Snapchatters are already accustomed to using the app’s augmented reality lenses to animate their photos.

Dreams could turn out to be its AI-powered successor... as long as attention-zapped users haven’t already moved on to the next trend.