With Facebook having recently acquired Instagram for a whopping one billion in cash and stocks, the rationale behind the launch of Facebook Camera for iPhone is unclear. But, leaving that question aside, you might be wondering about the app itself, not the reason for it. In a nutshell, Facebook Camera lets you scroll through image feeds and add your own photos, from either the camera roll or shot directly from within the app. While the photo editing features are wanting compared to other third-party apps, the upload speed and photo-only feed make this a worthwhile download for anyone who uses Facebook as their main photo sharing venue. And statistically speaking, that’s most of us.
The interface is dead simple. The home screen is set by default to show your friends’ photo streams, while a camera icon and a few tiny thumbnails from the camera roll make up a small top bar. Between the two there is the option to switch from viewing friends’ photos to viewing your own.
You scroll down to browse photos, which are squared off and often cropped. A tap expands the image to its regular aspect ratio and swiping left lets you browse within a friend’s album. You can like, comment and tag photos by tapping on icons that are instantly recognizable. The only thing missing is the option to share photos to your own or a friend’s wall.
As a photo browser the app is great. It’s zippy and uncluttered. But as a photo editor, for touch-ups and novelty effects, it’s wanting. There are only a fraction of the filters found in similar apps, no borders, and no way to adjust color balance, brightness or even remove red eye. That said, uploading photos is really fast, easily beating third-party apps and even Facebook proper.
The truth is that while a ton of iPhone photographers are part of Instagram’s robust community, many regular Facebook shutterbugs have never even heard of the app or its community. And, let’s not forget all the non-photographic images that are shared on Facebook that Facebook Camera displays.
Whether Facebook will ultimately integrate Instagram into their own system, (which seems unlikely as the strong community would not take the move kindly) or not, Facebook Camera is a great way to view and upload pics. Just be sure to use your primary photo editor first if the artsy angle is your thing.