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Meta AI’s image generation is unlike anything ChatGPT can do

Published Apr 19th, 2024 12:18PM EDT
You'll see the Meta AI logo everywhere in Meta's apps.
Image: Meta

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It’s official: Meta is ready to join the AI fray. Meta AI received a massive update this week. Llama 3 is Meta’s new large language model that powers Meta AI, which Mark Zuckerberg claims is more intelligent than anything in the industry. Meta AI is now available on the web, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp in multiple countries, though it’s not a worldwide rollout yet.

Still, this shows that Meta is finally ready to challenge ChatGPT, Copilot, Gemini, and everyone else. The company is adding its AI product to all its social networks, which have billions of active users. Meta AI will get tremendous exposure once its AI is available globally.

But out of everything Meta announced, one particular demo blew my mind. Meta AI comes with its own image-generation tool called Imagine, which is available in beta to some WhatsApp and web users. The new Meta AI feature can do something OpenAI’s ChatGPT can’t: It creates images instantly with no waiting necessary.

This is the second time an AI product has blown my mind this week. Earlier, I showed you Microsoft’s VASA-1 tool, which generates talking video clips out of a portrait image and a voice recording. VASA-1 isn’t made for the public though, and we might never get access to this particular AI. Anyone could create misleading fakes with it, so Microsoft is only showing off a proof of concept.

Meta’s AI image generation tool is the second AI tool that really blew me away this week. It’s not quite as exciting as VASA-1, but this one will actually be available to end users. Also, Meta is doing something that other products already offer. You can generate AI images with ChatGPT and Dall-E right now. With a bit of work, the results can be stunning. Plenty of similar alternatives exist in the market, so you don’t even have to go for Dall-E.

But what is exciting about the Imagine feature is that Meta AI produces images the moment you start typing. The image changes in real time as your prompt is updated. This is absolutely mind-blowing. Nobody else is doing it yet, though many others are likely working on tech to speed up AI image generation.

Generating an image in real-time in WhatsApp with Meta AI's Imagine feature.
Generating an image in real-time in WhatsApp with Meta AI’s Imagine feature. Image source: Meta

Meta provides the example above, with a simple prompt: “Imagine a soccer game on Mars.” As you can see, the image changes with every word the user types.

The resulting images aren’t just generated faster; they should be sharper and higher quality. You should also be able to insert text into images, which is another problem for AI-generated pictures. Imagine will let you create animated photos so you can create GIFs out of anything, including your own photos.

How to use Meta AI Imagine

As you can see in the animation above, Imagine is the command you have to give Meta AI so it can start generating images. That’s all there is to it. To use the feature, you just have to find Meta AI in the search inside WhatsApp. You’ll have to look for the circular logo at the top of this post. That’s Meta AI. Imagine also works on the web version of Meta AI.

If you can’t see the logo in Meta apps, it hasn’t rolled out to your region. As a reminder, Meta AI is currently available in Australia, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, the USA, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The prompts have to be in English.

However, the Imagine feature is restricted to the US market and only available on WhatsApp and the web (over at Image generation is also in beta at the moment, so you might encounter issues along the way. If you want to read more about the tech behind the Imagine feature, Meta has a paper available at this link.

I can’t test the Imagine feature, as Meta AI isn’t available in Europe. But I expect Meta to expand availability to other markets soon. As for the Imagine tool, I can’t wait to see how reliable it is in day-to-day testing.

On that note, it’ll be interesting to see how OpenAI, Google, and others respond to all the Meta AI innovations Meta just announced.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.