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Belarus-made App Named Among “Best of 2016” By Google

Google has released Google Play’s top five lists for the most popular content around the world in 2016. Face swapping app MSQRD, developed by Belarusians and sold to Facebook in 2016, is named among Top 5 trending apps of the year.

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The list of the top trending apps of 2016 includes Face Changer 2, Lumyer – Photo & Selfie Editor, Castbox – Podcast Radio Music, Emoji Keyboard Pro and MSQRD.

MSQRD lets users superimpose celebrity faces over their own in selfie videos. Belarusians Sergey Gonchar, Eugene Zatepyakin and Eugene Nevgen first developed the software called MSQRD during a 48-hour so-called hackathon in Minsk in November 2015. At that point the app only added a dynamic mustache.

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Eugene Nevgen (L) and Sergey Gonchar (R) in their office in Minsk, Belarus

By New Year, Belarusians had developed a full-scale service letting users try on dozens of faces, ranging from Snoop Dogg to Joseph Stalin (with a mustache).

The app quickly gained popularity in more than 20 other markets, including Russia, Germany and South Korea. At its peak during Oscar week, MSQRD climbed to third place overall in U.S. iTunes App Store downloads, according to App Annie, and reached the top spot in photo and video apps after a popular host Jimmy Kimmel demonstrated the program on Jimmy Kimmel Live show.

In March 2016 MSQRD was bought by Facebook. The app’s three founders moved to work in Facebook’s London office.