Instagram has become a phenomonom. It’s really quite rare that a service gains such a wide adoption that it becomes a household name. As someone who spends a large part of his day reading and writing about the technology industry, i’m no stranger to a lot of lesser-known apps (i.e., one’s my friends probably wouldn’t have heard of). Instagram is different; my Facebook stream is littered with Instagram shots, and I see people every day taking photos with the app.
Facebook clearly recognised the Instagram team were onto something when they bought the app for a billion dollars. A day or so ago, Facebook released Facebook Camera, a brand new app that is probably going to be the future of Instagram.
When you first launch Facebook Camera you’ll, naturally, need to login to your Facebook account. Fortunately, you’ll be able to just tap into the official Facebook app to share your credentials, assuming you have it installed.
The app’s homescreen is incredibly reminiscent of Instagram’s, although it will encompass all photos from all your Facebook friends, and not just ones capture within the app. This means that, even if you’re not big on taking photos, the app provides itself as an excellent photo browser.
Overlaid onto each image is a traditional Facebook-like button, as well as another to open up the comments for the post. While this app is obviously much more tightly integrated into Facebook than Instagram ever was, the ultimate basic functionality remains the same.
Snapping and Editing
Taking a new photo is as easy as hitting the large camera icon and then snapping an image. You have access to both the front and back cameras, as well as the range of regular flash options.
When you’ve snapped your photo, it’s added to the app’s library, and it’s now time to edit! By hitting the crop icon, you’ll be able to a cut your image down to specific area and/or proportion, or rotate the image.
Just as you’d expect, you can also apply filters to your images in much the same way as Instagram. By hitting the magic wand icon, a popup will reveal the range of filters available for application. These aren’t a direct rip from what Instagram has to offer, although there are similarities between some of them. Facebook also went with a more literal nomenclature of the styles, using names like Highlight, Neon and Cool.
The choice of filters remain plentiful, and you won’t be disappointed with the results.
Once the photo is setup how you’d like, it’ll autosave into your library where you can leave it. However, the odds are that you want to share it with your Facebook friends.
Photos are shared to the social network by creating a post and attaching them, which can be done from right within the app. You simply have to open the image which you’d like to share, and then hit the familiar compose button. Here you can create a post, tag people in it, set a location and edit privacy. Unlike Instagram, you can also attach multiple photos to a single post in one go.
Unfortunately, Facebook is the extent of sharing in the app. This means that unlike in Instagram, you can’t share to a plethora of other popular networks such as Twitter and Tumblr. I’m more of a tweeter than a Facebook-er, so this instantly excludes me from being a regular user of the app. Obviously, Facebook is unlikely to bring sharing tools to their rival networks, but it’d be nice for the end user to be able to share on multiple networks at once.
Something that shocked me about Facebook Camera is just how nicely it’s designed. Facebook, and likely the former Instagram team, have done a great job with the UI design in the app. It’s clean, and has a Tweetbot-esque style with squared-off buttons and a dark, black-and-grey colour scheme.
Out of all the Facebook apps on mobile, Facebook Camera looks the best, even if it doesn’t exactly fit into the universal style of Facebook (you’ll find very little blue in the app).
If you’re a Facebook user, and don’t really care much about other networks, Facebook Camera improves on Instagram. Its tight integration into the social networks is perfect for Facebook fanatics, and extra features such as tagging users build upon the Instagram basis. For the socialite exclusive to Facebook, I’d rate this higher than Instagram.
However, the Facebook branding means you won’t find other social networks integrated here, which is disappointing if you frequent them. As a Twitter user, I won’t be able to use the app, even if I wanted to, since it’s just a hassle to share photos to other networks. Instagram, alternatively, allows you to share to all the other major networks without any additional effort needed on your part.
The choice is yours. Instagram remains a great app, but Facebook Camera builds upon that base with deeper integration, albeit exclusively.