WhatsApp’s Experimenting With AI-Generated Profile Images


Meta’s super keen to become a key player in the generative AI race, which is why it’s investing billions upon billions into AI hardware and development, and jamming its new AI features into all of its apps.

Which includes WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the world, which is also notoriously difficult to add features into, because most WhatsApp are only interested in sending messages to their friends, and nothing else.

But Meta’s going to give it a shot either way, with the company now developing a new AI profile image generator for WhatsApp profiles.

WhatsApp AI photos

As you can see in this screenshot, posted by WABetaInfo, in the latest version of WhatsApp, there’s new code relating to an as yet unreleased “Create AI Profile Picture” option for your WhatsApp presence.

Which, as it sounds, would enable you to generate your own AI photo, which you can already do via various third party tools, and you can also, at least theoretically, create via Meta’s own AI tools.

Though adding your own image into the Meta AI chat stream isn’t simple.

As an experiment, I tried a few different ways to do this, first by asking it to create an alternate version of my profile image (it returned a picture of a young Asian man), then to create an image of “Andrew Hutchinson” (it returned a dog chasing a Frisbee), then the “human” Andrew Hutchinson (it gave me this image of a Victorian era gentleman sitting in his study).

Meta AI generated photo

It then informed me that it can’t actually access any photos, so I could only do this by describing by profile image. Which, I guess, could work, with a fair bit of trial and error, sort of like creating a police sketch of yourself via AI.

But again, it is possible, while Meta’s also experimenting with AI profile image generation specifically on Facebook and IG.

Meta AI profile

Maybe they’ll all get launched at once, with the AI profile image option available in all of Meta’s apps, giving billions of people the chance to create hyperreal, slightly off-putting depictions of themselves.

Would that be a good thing? Probably not, but interesting nonetheless. Potentially.

The feature would add to WhatsApp’s existing AI elements, including stickers that you can create from text prompts, and its Meta AI chatbot, which Meta believes will eventually become popular, despite negative initial feedback.

And while most of these tools are somewhat interesting, as noted, most are also, at this stage at least, a novelty, that’s unlikely to see ongoing use.

But AI is the thing of the moment, and all the big tech players are convinced that not only will they become transformative tools, but also, that they need to incorporate them to keep up.

And while there are some use cases for generative AI that are significant, I’m still not sure that social and messaging apps need them.

Seems like we’re going to find out either way.