Facebook today released Camera, a standalone iOS app that lets users take photos, add filters and share them on the social network. It also includes a photos-only feed.
The app, which sounds a lot like Instagram, was developed by Facebook alone since the Instagram acquisition has not yet closed. Camera is now available in the App Store, but there’s no word on a release for Android yet. A recent update to Facebook for Android included a shortcut to the camera within the main app, but it did not have all the features of the new iOS standalone app. [Update 5/24/12 11:57 a.m. PT – Previously this story said that Facebook for Android still included a camera shortcut. We have corrected it since a more recent version of the app removed the shortcut features.]
On first impression, the most useful aspect of Camera could be the bulk upload feature. The main Facebook for iPhone app does let users add photo albums or attach multiple photos to a single post, but most users are unaware that this is possible. The process is also pretty slow. The standalone Camera app seems to have sought to improve this.
The launch of a mobile photo-sharing application is a bit of a surprise considering Facebook’s recent $1-billion purchase of Instagram. Screenshots of a Facebook photo app leaked last summer, but when the app didn’t launch and the social network bought Instagram, we figured the company had moved on. Facebook says that it will continue to let Instagram operate under its own brand and allow sharing to networks like Twitter. If Camera takes off, Facebook could ultimately merge Instagram with the app.
This is third standalone app from Facebook. In addition to the main iOS app, Facebook offers Messenger and Page Manager. We can imagine the company continuing to develop standalone apps to provide additional functionality without bogging down the main app, while also gradually taking over users’ home screens on iOS and Android devices. For example, Facebook could develop an events app that makes it easier for users to organize spontaneous meet-ups and find out what their friends are doing. This could be separate or combined with a location-based app that helps users find their friends and new people around them, similar to Glancee, which Facebook acquired last month.
See screenshots of Camera below: