All about Voila AI, the app that turns you into a Disney character

Voila IA is a new app that lets you transform yourself into a cartoon character in just a few clicks. But like all apps that rely on facial recognition to change your appearance, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you send your face online.

You may have seen your Twitter or Facebook feeds blooming cartoon-style selfies, since the start of June 2021. Your best friend who looks like a Pixar character, your great-aunt with baby skin and disproportionate pupils. Welcome to the new phenomenon Here is IA, the latest trendy selfie app.

What is this IA?

If you remember FaceApp, that app that turned you into an old man a few years ago, then Voila IA won’t be too foreign to you. Concretely, the application will modify your selfies to make you look like a cartoon character, by using facial recognition algorithms.

Other filters exist to transform you into a comic book character, renaissance painting or humorous caricature drawing. The app obviously lets you transform your own selfies, but you can also see what it’s like with celebrity photos available within the app.

The cartoon rendering that flourishes on the web // Source: Screenshot

The service is pretty basic and doesn’t offer much other than a collection of predefined filters. There is no way to change anything once the photo is captured.

Why are we talking about it ?

While Voila IA has been living on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store since March 2021, downloads exploded in early June to reach 10.5 million installs in just a fortnight. It climbed to the first place of photo applications on Android and to fourth place in the same ranking in the App Store according to figures from Sensor Tower.

This was of course accompanied by criticism, with some netizens pointing out that the algorithm used tended to erase the characteristic features of non-white and non-Western faces. This is not the first time that an algorithm bias has been singled out, but the company has deemed the matter serious enough to indicate in its terms of use that, “ under no circumstances do we manufacture a product the purpose of which is to offend an ethnic group or to support racism in any way. “. At least, it’s clear.

How much does it cost ?

The service is basically free and relies on display advertising to be profitable. Lots of advertising displays, by the way. During our short test, the application showed us banner and interstitial ads (full screen before your content and of course not always avoidable).

This heavy advertising presence is in fact intended to push you towards a “pro” subscription which costs between 2 and 3 euros per week or 20 to 30 euros per year. This privileged access allows you to hide ads, generate your cartoony selfies faster and export them to social networks without watermark.

In view of the app’s dazzling popularity and the equally dazzling oblivion into which services like FaceApp or ToonMe have fallen, the purchase of an annual subscription does not seem essential.

What are the risks for privacy?

This is obviously the most important question to ask yourself before using Voilà IA. Since the FaceApp phenomenon, applications that make facial recognition algorithms work on your selfies have been closely scrutinized.

Behind the application, we find the company Wemagine.AI LLP which details in black and white its privacy policy on its site. Simply put, when you use the app, you give the company permission to use it as they see fit. In more legislative terms, “ you grant to Company a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable and transferable license to host, store, use in any way, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish and distribute downloaded and generated content “.

The terms may be scary, but they’re pretty much the same as on many other apps of this type. It is still useful to remember the concessions you make by using this type of service. The company promises to delete your selfies 24 to 48 hours after they are captured.

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