TikTok is experimenting with a new tool that allows users to create generative AI avatars, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The new tool was first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra. The tool isn’t broadly available, and is currently being tested in a few select markets, the company said. With this test product, TikTok is essentially building a Lensa-like app directly within its platform.
Once users get access to the tool, it will ask them to select between three to 10 photos to create avatars, according to screenshots posted by Navarra. You can only use the tool once a day, and each time you use it, it will generate up to 30 avatars.
After you upload your images, you can pick up to five different styles for the tool to use when generating your avatars. Navarra notes that it takes a couple of minutes for the app to generate the AI avatars. You can then choose to download one or several of the AI avatars. You have the option to share an avatar to your TikTok story or upload it as your profile avatar.
“We’re always thinking about new ways to add value to the community and enrich the TikTok experience, as we continue to build a safe place that entertains, inspires creativity, and drives culture,” a spokesperson for TikTok told TechCrunch in an email. “In a few select regions, we’re experimenting with a new way to create and share profile pictures with the TikTok community.”
Although the styles with TikTok’s tool are more limited than what you can get on Lensa, a paid app, the results are impressive.
Photos that violate TikTok’s Community Guidelines cannot be used to create avatars, and photos that are uploaded will be moderated by the app’s content moderation systems. TikTok will delete all of the photos that users upload after a short period of time.
TikTok says that the features it experiments with don’t always end up in the final product, and for features that do, they can look and feel different by the time they launch broadly.
Last winter, Lensa climbed to the top of the U.S. App Store charts as users around the world posted artistic renditions of themselves that they generated on the app. In response to the app’s success, consumer demand for AI edits had pushed numerous other “AI” apps into the U.S. App Store’s Top Charts. At the time, the top three spots on the U.S. App Store were all held by AI photo editors.
Given the success around generative AI avatar tools, it’s no surprise that TikTok is looking to incorporate its own version within its platform. Of course, the success around AI photo apps is paired with controversy, as artists have raised red flags about apps like Lensa AI sampling their work. TikTok is likely looking to avoid such controversy by experimenting with a limited tool.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that TikTok has built and incorporated its own limited version of a popular AI app. Back in August 2022, the company introduced an in-app text-to-image AI generator that lets users type in a prompt and receive an image that can be used as the background in their videos. The filter was released in response to the popularity of OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 text-to-image AI generator.