Somewhat curiously, Facebook has launched a new iPhone app today called Facebook Camera. Like the company’s stand-alone Facebook Messenger app, Facebook Camera provides users with an instant-access portal to photo-sharing on Facebook. And yes, it has filters.
Facebook Camera is a really simple app that has two main functions. The first is photo-sharing, which can be done by either taking a new photo, or uploading an existing photo from your camera roll. Users can crop and even apply Instagram-like filters to their photos before sharing them online for the world (well, your Facebook friends, at least) to see. One of the best features is that Camera allows for batch uploads, making it so much easier to create and populate an entire Facebook Photo Album from your phone. In addition, Facebook Camera acts as a photo viewer, giving users a much nicer mobile way to browse through their friends photos in a News Feed-like interface.
I’ve played around with the app for a few minutes, and it definitely is as simple as it sounds. Facebook Camera provides a much sleeker, smoother photo-viewing experience than the full Facebook app for iOS. While I still don’t quite understand the need for Facebook to release stand-alone apps instead of building these features into their full app (perhaps they are building a Facebook phone, one app at a time), there’s a larger question looming here: having just announced their intent to purchase Instagram for a hefty $1 billion, why release a competitor?
I’m sure investors are curious about this as well. Facebook is a public company now, and like it or not, Mark is going to have to start answering to the people who buy in to his company. Why does Facebook need two photo sharing applications? Now that they have their own Instagram competitor, what justification is there for spending a billion dollars on Instagram? By and large, Instagram and Facebook Camera are the same thing, save for the fact that Instagram also integrates with Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Foursquare, while Facebook Camera is deeply integrated with the social network that birthed it. But to users, many of whom are already deeply committed to Instagram, Facebook Camera doesn’t provide much of an incentive to switch.
If you want to try out Facebook Camera for yourself, it’s available for iPhone right now in the App Store.