Facebook today launched a stand alone photo app for iOS devices. The Facebook Camera app as its called, can be downloaded from the App Store and is available for all English-speaking countries.
At first glance, the app seems to be an easier way to share photos directly via Facebook. Like Instagram, which Facebook just bought for $1 billion, users have the options of adding filters, cropping, titling their photos, and then sharing them on Facebook.
The app is not yet available for Android or BlackBerry users. In an official statment, Facebook said that it is “carefully looking at what might make for a good Facebook photos experience across Android devices.”
So is the app an Instagram killer or just a slavish copy? The jury is divided on that issue.
The one big plus is that the new Facebook Camera app gives users the option of sharing a bunch of photos at the same time.TechCrunch’s Josh Constine writes,
It’s great for if you can’t decide which shot is best and don’t want to go through the sharing flow over and over.The feature basically steamrolls Batch, a photosharing app specifically designed for uploading sets. Browsing multi-photo stories is smooth too, as they appear as one story in the feed showing the first photo.
So clearly for those Facebook junkies who want to share a quick party album without having to waste a whole lot of time picking and choosing photos, this app is a god-send.
But what about the filters? Filters are solely responsible for making Instagram the big success that it is today. The ability to change crappy 2 megapixel or 5 megapixel photos into sepia or vintage tinted photos is why a lot of users have picked Instagram over other photo editing apps.
The Facebook Camera app however can’t really match up to Instagram when it comes to filters or even the design. Mashable’s Christina Warren minces no words in saying that Facebook’s Camera app has terrible filters. She says,
The filters in Facebook Camera are really more like white-balance settings, and poor ones at that.
So is Facebook hoping that the Camera app is going to be a substitute for Instagram? Not really. According to TechCrunch, a company spokesperson said that, “As Mark asserted, we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently, so I anticipate some healthy competition.”
For now it’s too soon to say that how successful the app will be. But it appears to be another attempt by Facebook to expand its domain in the mobile world as more and more users log into the site via mobile, an area where the company needs a desperate boost, especially after its IPO fiasco.
Earlier this month, comScore’s new Mobile Metrix 2.0 report showed US smartphone users spent 441 minutes per month, or 7 hours and 21 minutes, on Facebook in March. That compares with 391 minutes, or 6 hours and 31 minutes, for people who tapped into Facebook via a computer. In filing documents for its initial public offering, Facebook highlighted the fact and noted that it does not generate meaningful revenue from mobile users.
“If users increasingly access mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users,” the company writes in its filing documents, “our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected.”