Facebook’s internal R&D group, NPE Team, has today officially launched its latest app, E.gg, to a broader audience. The app, a freeform creation tool described as a “digital zine creator” and “GIF collage bonanza,” was announced earlier this year, but was only onboarding users via a waitlist until now. Today, it’s available in the App Store for anyone to download.
The app allows users to create and share canvases, which are basically mixed media “artsy” collages created using a combination of text, images, and/or GIFs. The latter leverages Facebook’s acquisition of the GIF repository Giphy from May. Anything you make in E.gg can be given its own unique URL, allowing others to view your content even if they don’t have the app installed themselves.
However, if you do use E.gg, you can browse through other people’s work directly in the app. And when you discover something on their pages you like, you can easily reuse that content on your own pages with attribution.
When first introducing E.gg this summer, Facebook Product Manager Jason Toff described it as an “experimental new platform for weird and wonderful expressions of who you are and what you love,” adding that the inspiration for the project was the “raw and exploratory spirit on the early Interwebz.”
In other words, the early days of the web resulted in a lot more weird and offbeat creativity, because users were experimenting with what was possible — from dancing baby GIFs to awful font choices to tacky website backgrounds.
The question E.gg aims to answer is whether a more low-pressure, creative tool can help give people the power to express themselves more freely.
— Jason Toff (@jasontoff) November 18, 2020
Unfortunately, the app during its beta period had also been met with complaints from artists who claimed it was stealing their work. They said the tool had pulled in their GIFs without permission or credit. Facebook responded at the time to acknowledge the issues and noted that the reason the app was still in a beta testing phase was to get feedback about the sort of problems it needed to correct before going live. The company said it would hold off on expanding E.gg until it fixed these problems.
Facebook says it has addressed the attribution issues. On the desktop, it’s testing an “attribution” button on the bottom left of each page. On mobile, you can tap “bits” to see who art is by, the company notes.
E.gg is available as a free download from the iOS App Store in the U.S. Users can also browse others’ creations via http://e.gg.