Five of the best face swap apps

Will 2016 go down in history as the year we failed to heed the warning about artificial intelligence overthrowing humanity one stone at a time, because we were distracted by swapping faces with our friends, our pets or nearby breasts?

Perhaps. Face-swapping apps aren’t actually new – several have been around since 2013 – but they have become this year’s mobile craze, in a lineage that includes Draw Something, Dubsmash, Flappy Bird, FatBooth and (in the earliest days of Apple’s App Store) virtual pint-drinking and lightsaber apps.

The craze may only last as long as it takes for the next novelty app genre to emerge, but in the meantime, here are five apps for giving face-swapping a go.

Android / iOS


App crazes may come and go, but tech startups shunning vowels is a trend that will never die. MSQRD (i.e. Masquerade) made headlines this month when it was acquired by Facebook less than three months after launching. For now, the app remains available on Android and iOS.

MSQRD is pitched as a “video selfies” app for recording short clips of your digitally edited face – from adding virtual accessories through to celebrity face-masks, as well as swapping faces with friends. It’s easy to use, as you swipe between effects, with quick sharing to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Face Swap Live

Face Swap Live.

Face Swap Live may not have been acquired by a tech giant, but it has made plenty of headlines thanks to this feat of ingenuity:

— Lux (@Callux)
March 11, 2016


What times we live in! For now, Face Swap Live is iOS-only, although its developer is getting Android users to sign up to be notified when it gets ported to Google-powered smartphones.

Live face swaps with friends (or body parts) are its key appeal, although Face Swap Live also works with photos, including pics of celebrities pulled from the web. The celebrity angle is fuelling the face-swap buzz: mapping your face on to Donald Trump’s infamous hairline is the new political satire. Possibly.

Android / iOS

Snapchat’s face-swapping feature.

With its 100 million daily active users, Snapchat has been one of the key ways face-swapping technology has been introduced to a mainstream audience. Face-swapping was added as one of the app’s “lenses” in February 2016, likely using technology from another acquisition – of startup Looksery the year before.

Like other lenses, the face-swapping feature is accessed by lining up a selfie, then pressing and holding on your face, before swiping along a carousel of special effects. Line up the on-screen markets with a friend’s face, and marvel at the horror. It’s not a reason to download Snapchat if you haven’t already, but for users it’s another freakish-but-fun reason to keep snapping.

Face Swap Booth
Android / iOS

Face Swap Booth.

It may be lacking the media buzz of MSQRD and Face Swap Live – not to mention the video aspects – but if you want to simply mix and match faces from photos, it’s a good free app to experiment with.

An accessible interface masks some pretty powerful editing features, as well as handy options like saving a face to swap in to other photos, and a preloaded bank of celebrity photos to use. For static face-swapping, the fine-tuning options make this well worth a try.

Face Stealer

Face Stealer: a bit more horror movie

Included as a reminder that Yahoo has managed to be one of the more inventive companies around mobile in recent years, even if it hasn’t had the best of luck capitalising on that cleverness. Yahoo’s Japanese division released this photo face-swapping app in February 2013, but three years on, newer startups have stolen its thunder.

The language here is about “stealing” other people’s faces rather than swapping with them, which may be one reason: it sounds a bit more horror movie. The app is fun although more limited in terms of subjects and scale: Einstein, the Mona Lisa and a few other options.

‘I’m speechless. It’s revolting!’ Why I love faceswapping apps


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