Instagram is holding onto its place as the darling of the mobile photo sharing world. After adding a whopping two million new users in a month thanks to Thanksgiving and the release of the iPhone 4S, the app now has a shiny new trophy for its shelf: it has been selected as Apple’s “iPhone App of the Year“. The future is looking extremely bright for the 13-month-old, 7-man company: Goldman Sachs recently designated it as a potential IPO candidate and founder Kevin Systrom expects the membership base to double once the Android version arrives.
Today Instagram released version 2.0 of its wildly popular iPhone app, which will soon see its 10 millionth user. The base technology has been completely overhauled to bring speed to the app — filters now apply 200x faster, tilt-shift applies 100x faster, and both can be viewed live while shooting. Four new filters have been introduced (seen above), and borders on filters are now optional. Finally, the resolution of photos saved to the iPhone 4 has been increased from 612×612 to 1936×1936 (the size of photos uploaded to Instagram remains unchanged).
Noticeably absent from today’s announcement was an Android version of the app, though with this major release you can bet that they’re working harder than ever on getting it released.
Photo filters that turn ordinary pictures into vintage ones are becoming mainstream. How mainstream, you ask? Well, Facebook is reportedly planning hop onto the bandwagon, adding them to its mobile apps to compete against Instagram. The New York Times writes,
The new feature has been ready for some time, according to two engineers who work at Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, hopes his engineers and artists create more filters before releasing the new product. Both Facebook engineers asked not to be named as they are not allowed to speak publicly for the company about unannounced products.
The engineers said Facebook will introduce almost a dozen photo filters, including some that are similar to Instagram like old-style camera lenses and grainy film. Facebook will also try to introduce new styles of filters with the hopes of drawing users away from other photo apps.
The article also states that Facebook tried to acquire Instagram this past summer, but failed. Brace yourselves — the photo world’s about to become a whole lot more faux-retro.
Confused about what Google’s new Photovine photo sharing app is all about? Here’s a short video published yesterday that explains the service without blinding us with hairy-chested dudes. “Instead of just posting a photo, you plant it and watch it grow.”
Aside from the fun-factor of “vines” planted for random topics, it seems like the service could be useful for spreading images of real-time news stories (e.g. protests, disasters, etc..), similar to what Twitter does with text and hashtags.
Photovine is a fun way to learn more about your friends, meet new people, and share your world like never before. It all starts with what we call a photovine: a group of photos around a single, shared caption. Start a new vine with a photo and caption of your own or add your photo/take on someone else’s vine.
It has a long ways to go before it can catch Instagram, which is currently the 800-pound gorilla in this space. Instagram has already passed 7 million registered users, who have uploaded more than 700 million photos. Google has a pretty big reach though, so products launched by the company can get really big, really fast — just look at Google+.
FastCompany paid a visit to the Instagram offices in San Francisco recently to chat with founder Kevin Systrom:
CEO Kevin Systrom and the Instagram team are exactly what you picture when thinking of scrappy startup entrepreneurs: four guys in a room. Literally, there are only four people at Instagram. And they’re working in a corner of a shared tech office in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood.
Some interesting facts mentioned in the interview: the service is growing at a rate of 1.3-1.4 million users per month, they’re planning an Android version, they haven’t spent a dime on marketing, and the current app is only the “tip of the iceberg” in their plans to change how we take and share photos.
If you’re not convinced that Google is jumping into the photo-sharing pool head first, get this: the company has not one, but two stealthy photo sharing apps in private beta. Besides the Pool Party app that came to light at the beginning of the month, the rumored Photovine service has now materialized into a website — well, a landing page, at least. Read more…
CNBC ran this short segment a couple days ago in which they invited CNET’s Dan Ackerman to explain the changing landscape in the digital camera industry. He thinks point-and-shoot cameras may soon become extinct due to the rise of camera-equipped phones, but also that DSLRs are the cameras here to stay. A recent study found that phones have replaced digital cameras completely for 44% of consumers, and that number seems bound to rise as the cameras on phones continue to improve.
My guess is that in five years, we’ll see digital camera users divided into three camps: mobile phone, interchangeable lens compact, and DSLR. What’s your prediction?
I’m not sure how useful this would be for most people, but it’s a neat look at the kinds of technologies people are working on to enrich our photo sharing experience. Pass-Them-Around is an app developed by researchers at Nokia that lets you share digital photographs with friends sitting around a table as if you had physical prints sitting in front of you. The phones can also be placed side by side to act as larger displays for the photos.
Mobile photo sharing star Instagram just announced its 5 millionth member and will soon pass 100 million photos, but their domination of the market may not last much longer. According to TechCrunch, Facebook — a service that receives 6 billion photos a month and stores 100 billion photos total — is currently working on a feature-packed iPhone app that may soon be ubiquitous on iPhones.
The information comes from 50MB of images and documents leaked to the blog, and TechCrunch says that the app can be described as Path meets Instagram meets Color meets With. Unlike the legions of photo sharing apps struggling to capture users, Facebook can simply tap its 600+ million users to instantly dominate the market — much like it did with photo sharing on the web.