Meituan launches in-app AI photo studio

Following the huge popularity of AI-generated photo trends on social media in 2023, the Chinese shopping platform Meituan has now launched its own AI photo studio. This is the latest in the app’s expanding roster of functions, including short video editing, putting the app in direct competition with Douyin (TikTok’s sister app in China).

The AI photo studio lives within the Meituan app, which is primarily used for ordering takeaway food and household necessities but can connect users with a wide array of local services. This is a business model being adopted by an increasing number of platforms including Douyin and Xiaohongsu, which are all looking to get a slice of China’s lucrative local life services sector.

The process is much the same as on China’s top AI photo app, Miaoya Camera. Users need to upload one half-length portrait and multiple portraits with different backgrounds to generate a basic “digital clone”. They can then generate photos in corresponding styles according to the various templates provided. Although the process is quite slow (around 50 minutes), the image quality is reportedly just as good as on Miaoya Camera. More impressively, users can nab their AI-generated images at no extra cost.

Unlike Miaoya Camera, Meituan’s AI photo studio incorporates local life services. When the user generates the photo, the name of a physical photography studio or photo booth in the local area is displayed. After the image generation is complete, users can click through to book services at the physical store. In this way, the Meituan AI photo studio provides a “preview”, encouraging users to take higher-quality photos offline.

Meituan has reportedly been developing AI capabilities since 2022, mainly for large-scale deep learning in takeaway advertising. In November 2023, Meituan announced the launch of its first AI product, WOW, a social app where young people can chat with and train “AI buddies” in a chatbot-like setup.


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