Facebook Camera: just a lackluster version of Instagram?
Facebook’s Camera app is great–if you’re not already an Instagram user
When I heard about the big launch of Facebook Camera Thursday, I was over-the-top excited. There are few things I enjoy more about social networking than sharing photos of wonderfully random things throughout the day. I know I’m not alone here. We’re a visual people; it’s one part aesthetic, three parts escape. Some of us love it so much we could even stare at pictures of cabins for hours on end. It’s true, just try to peel your eyes from these amazingly obscure cabins (see what I mean?).
Anyway, after my initial excitement over Facebook Camera wore down, it was almost shot dead in the face when I realized that this app is not available for Android. Currently, I split my mobile-love between iOS and Android by constantly shifting back and forth between Apple’s third-generation iPad and HTC’s sort-of-ancient-at-this-point Incredible 2 (don’t judge, it’s a sturdy little piece of equipment). This basically means that whenever a developer comes out with some brilliant iPhone exclusive app, I’m left kicking my feet in the dust, just waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Forever waiting for an Android or a native iPad release.
Sometimes–and particularly in this Facebook Camera situation–I just get really impatient and download the iPhone app to my iPad, anyway (yuck, I know). Yeah, it looks a little stupid trying to deal with a 3.5-inch box on my 9.7-inch iPad display. But sometimes you just gotta roll with it. (This ended up being the case for all of my music listening for months before Spotify finally released its native iPad app–which, by the way, is sheer brilliance.)
So while I’m dealing with some pretty stupid restrictions with this Facebook Camera app, the new iPad’s camera is actually quite solid. I spent the morning snapping some rather fun photos with it. (Mostly of chairs, hurricane vases filled with twigs and other random domestic things found in thrift shops and IKEA. Look, I’m working out of my dining room today, just deal with it.) But the fun really ends there, because all of those Facebook Camera filters we mentioned Thursday, well, they kind of suck.
In fact, these filters are a lot like the “special effects” that Android already has on its standard camera app—which also enables direct uploads to Facebook by tapping the appropriate icon in the menu bar. You can also share photos to Facebook straight from Instagram. Admittedly, it takes longer to do this from these other apps, and that seems to be the biggest benefit to Facebook Camera so far: It’s fast for sharing.
Another smart feature is the fact that you can “Like” or comment on friends’ pictures directly from the app’s home page, (though you can do this in the regular old Facebook app, too). It should also be noted here that Instagram allows you to like and comment on other user photos. As for Facebook’s app, I also like that everything is laid out in a neat little grid; you scroll down to see the latest images from friends, and if they have multiple images in that feed, you can simply swipe across to see more. That’s pretty awesome.
Getting back to the filters, though, these things are just plain bad. And they have nothing, nothing on Instagram. They barely alter the picture, and when the almost unnoticeable change occurs—it doesn’t make the photo look much better than it did in its natural state.
And does anyone else find it odd that Facebook went through the billion dollar hassle of acquiring Instagram only to release its own version of Instagram while leaving Instagram exactly as it is?! I imagine Facebook Camera will reach a wider audience than Instagram, because pretty much everyone on the entire planet with an internet connection already uses the social network, compared to Instagram’s 40 million users.
But what I really can’t wrap my head around here is the app’s lackluster effects. I might have appreciated it more if the filters were left out entirely. It’s that whole “go big or go home” mentality. The fact that these filters are so utterly unimpressive makes it really hard for me to focus on the better features previously mentioned.
In the end, I’m not at all bothered by the fact that this isn’t intended for iPad, as taking photos with a tablet is really kind of awkward to begin (yes, they look sharp—but positioning that thing for a proper shot is beyond bizarre). And after enough tinkering around with it, I’ve also forgiven Facebook for not immediately releasing an Android version, because I’m not impressed enough with the app to even want to use it on my Android.
Until Facebook Camera comes out with some seriously competitive photo-altering features, I’ll gladly stick with Instagram, which suddenly seems far better than I originally gave it credit for.
Let us know what you think of Facebook Camera, which you can download free from the iTunes store. And if you’re not already using Instagram, you can get it here for iPhone or here for Android.
In: Smartphone · Tagged with: Camera, Facebook, Instagram, Just, lackluster, version