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Facebook Camera: Why Facebook's Instagram Purchase Was Vital

|May 25|magazine6 min read

 

Why did Facebook pay $1 billion for Instagram? Perhaps that purchase had something to do with this week’s release of Facebook Camera—the social network’s own photo-sharing app, which it began developing before it snagged trendy Instagram.

Just like Instagram, Facebook Camera lets users take, enhance and upload photos. Once the photos are up, other users can view and comment on them. The key differences between Instagram and Facebook really just come down to user preference:

  • Facebook Camera’s interface is slightly busier than Instagram’s, but photos are displayed larger and they’re zoomable.
  • Instagram’s shutter button is easier to find and it offers more filters. None of the filters Facebook Camera offers are unique, as they can all be found on Instagram.
  • On Instagram, users only see photos from people they have chosen to follow within that particular app. The Facebook Camera feed includes all of a user’s Facebook friends using the app with (for now) no way to filter anybody out.
  • Facebook Camera easily allows users to control who sees pictures, while photos shared on Instagram must be shared with all of a user’s followers.
  • Currently, Facebook Camera is only available to iPhone owners. Instagram opened up availability to include Android users in April.

As such, tech analyst reviews of Facebook Camera have so far been mixed. Forbes contributor Patrick Moorhead called it “one of the best photo apps [he has] used,” but Ian Paul from PCWorld pointed out that Facebook’s unfiltered access to his entire friendlist  has turned out to be an undesirable feature.

“Basically, I saw the kinds of photos you always see on Facebook,” Paul said. “And that’s when it hit me: Facebook Camera sucks. But it’s not the fault of Facebook or the app itself, it’s because my Facebook friends generally share crappy photos. And I’ll bet yours do too.”

At any rate, as it stands, Facebook Camera isn’t going to take much shine away from Instagram, which now boasts over 50 million users. But now that Facebook owns its most formidable competition, it doesn’t have to outshine it. Smart move, Zuckerberg.

And, hey—at least the Facebook Camera vs. Instagram conversation will pull a few eyes away from Facebook’s IPO debacle for a little while.