Thursday the social networking giant launched its new photo-sharing app simply called Facebook Camera, which aims to make it simpler for the social network’s users to upload and browse photos on smartphones.
As CNN reports, the news comes six weeks after Facebook spent $1 billion on a similar photo-sharing app called Instagram. And only days after the company’s initial public offering got a lukewarm reception from Wall Street and raised the eyebrows of financial regulators.
Facebook promised that the app, which will be available late Thursday for Apple iOS devices, will make Facebook photos more fun and accessible.
“When you launch the app, you’ll see a feed of just great photos from the people you care about,” the company said in a press release. “You can swipe to see more of any album or tap to enlarge an individual photo.”
The new application allows Facebook’s users crop photos and add colorful filters. Besides, the people who use it also can upload multiple pictures at once.
“Just select the shots you want to share by tapping the check-mark on each photo and then hit post,” Facebook’s statement reads. “You’ll have a chance to add a caption, say where you were and tag friends before you share.”
When asked if Facebook Camera would become a direct competitor to the photosharing network it bought last month, a spokesman told Tech Crunch: “As Mark asserted, we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently, so I anticipate some healthy competition.”
Facebook Camera is currently designed just for iOS in English-speaking countries, but it will reportedly roll out internationally over the next few weeks as Facebook gets it translated.
As for versions for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone, an insider revealed: “While we don’t comment on future products we are carefuly looking at what might make for agood Facebook photos experience across other platforms.”
Christina Warren of Mashable predicts that “after the release of Facebook Camera, Instagram could be Facebook’s YouTube — in other words, an acquisition that becomes monumentally important to its future, and helps it solve a problem it couldn’t solve on its own”.
Mike Isaac, a writer at the blog All Things D, calls the app “Instagram redux,” since the release comes so closely on the heels of the company’s purchase of that startup.
While there are key similarities between the apps, he writes, Facebook “was most likely working on this product long before buying Instagram was ever a real possibility.”
The New York Times’ Bits blog also suggests the similarities between the apps could be overstated. “It might seem strange for Facebook to release a camera application with built-in filters just weeks after announcing plans to buy Instagram, the social photo app,” the Times writes.
“But Facebook Camera is aimed at a different audience. Instagram has 40 million users, while Facebook has 900 million.”
“This leaves a large swath of people who are not on Instagram but are actively taking photos and uploading them to Facebook. The filters in Facebook Camera were developed by Facebook and are not borrowed from Instagram.”
Ellis Hamburger, writing for The Verge, had a more critical opinion:
“Had the Instagram deal never occurred, Facebook Camera wouldn’t really be much of an Instagram competitor anyway, lacking any mobile-only social circles, hashtagged sharing around specific topics, tilt-shift, and interesting filters, for that matter,” he wrote.