Hands-On: Facebook Camera

Facebook’s continuing quest to touch all areas of our life (and be the place to share it) is getting bigger today with the company’s new camera specific app, “Facebook Camera”. The app, as the name suggests, is built entirely for quickly snapping photos, applying filters, and sharing them online. How does it work and is a separate app outside of the Facebook app for taking/sharing photos really necessary? GS investigates…

User Interface

Upon firing up you’re met with a fresh, clean UI that quite frankly, we wish the dedicated Facebook app shared (perhaps a the future of Facebook’s mobile apps?). At the top of the app you’ll see a single row of recently snapped pictures (your own) as well as a camera icon to take new pictures. Underneath the first row, you’ll see a photo timeline similar to the normal Facebook timeline/app. What we really like is that when swiping down, more of your photo library on your phone is revealed; swiping all the way down brings reveals a full-screen grid view of your photo library from which multiple photos can be selected, edited and shared. It’s all very smooth and fast — quite different than the normal Facebook app.

Sharing Photos

Sharing photos is super simple, as is applying filters. Simply hit the camera icon located in the top left of the main timeline view or swipe down to select a Photo Library photo. Select your filter, add a comment/location/tagged friend and hit “post”. And…that’s it. Short paragraph, eh?

Really, the Facebook Camera app is very similar to Instagram’s entire service save for (of course) the UI.

We have to admit, after avoiding the mobile Facebook app as much as humanly possible we’re actually finding the Facebook Camera app to be quite nice. It has a few hiccups here and there, occasionally crashing to the homescreen of our phone when taking a picture or applying a filter. But for the most part, Facebook Camera 1.0 is a nice first try. Navigating the app is again fast and smooth, and the large assortment of filters mean kids and adults alike will have plenty of fake photography chops to dump online.

If Facebook could re-do their dedicated app with the UI and polish of Facebook Camera, we’d actually consider using it again. (Listening, guys/gals?)

Why A Separate App?

If you’re scratching your head wondering why Facebook released this dedicated camera app after instead of integrating directly into the main Facebook app, you’re probably not alone. For what it’s worth, Facebook has already done this before — use the Facebook Messenger app?

Releasing a standalone photo app solidifies the belief that Facebook’s mobile ambitions are now even stronger, not to mention their quest to become a one-stop shop for sharing all of your life’s journeys whether it be desktop or laptop. Also, the mobile photo sharing/filter category is a hotbed of activity no thanks to popular app Instagram.

But didn’t Facebook buy Instagram? Why yes, yes they did. Though, it’s worth pointing out the purchase hasn’t officially been finalized. On top of that, the fact that Facebook pushed this app out now, before the buyout of Instagram has completed, means this app has been in the oven baking for quite some time, and that buying Instagram only made sense given Facebook’s greater focus on mobile photo sharing/basic photo editing.

Removing competition is probably one of the reasons Facebook has decided to purchase Instagram. But, we’re willing to bet Facebook no doubt wanted some of Instagram’s designers/developers and Instagram IP, too.

Will Facebook’s Camera App Garner The Same Following As Instagram?

At this stage in the game, Instagram is practically a household name on iOS, and more recently, Android — though, so is Facebook. Facebook certainly doesn’t have to worry about attracting users with well over 700 million accounts. Still, we see Instagram as an easier, more socially friendly way to take, edit and share pictures seeing as how we can share to not only Facebook, but Twitter, Tumblr and a host of other social services. Furthermore, Facebook Camera is currently an iOS-only app with no mention of an Android variant (though there will have to be one at some point).

All that said, we think Facebook Camera will probably only appeal to die-hard Facebook users — at least for now. Then again, once the Facebook-Instagram takeover finally goes through, and if Facebook shutters the standalone Instagram app/service, the only logical place to go from there is right back to Facebook Camera as it is more or less going to be a Facebook-ified Instagram, complete with large userbase and wide assortment of filters. The other option: find a new service.

Facebook Camera, Instagram Or Something Else?

So we have to ask: Is Facebook Camera going to pull you away from Instagram. If you don’t use Instagram, will you begin using the Facebook Camera app? Or, are you pretty much over photo sharing apps at this point? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Facebook Camera for iOS: Download (iTunes Link)

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