Facebook Camera and Instagram, it's complicated

Screenshot of Facebook Camera on an iPhone CBS/Facebook

Screenshot of Facebook Camera on an iPhone, using a black and white filter.
CBS/Facebook

(CBS News) Facebook launched a mobile photo-sharing app Thursday, just months after announcing it would acquire Instagram. Comparisons and conspiracy theories have already started making rounds.

First, what are Facebook Camera's features?

The social network's new mobile photo-sharing app lets users take photos and upload them to Facebook, just like in the current mobile app. The two main differences are the addition of filters and batch uploads. The photos also seem to upload faster than when using Facebook's mobile app.

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Once photos are uploaded they automatically go into the mobile uploads folder on your profile, just as they would if uploaded through the Facebook app. People and locations can also be tagged in the app before they are uploaded.

Facebook Camera and Instagram: Friends or foes?

Instagram launched for the iPhone in 2010. The app lets users upload or take photos and apply filters to get a similar look and feel of lo-fi photography. After photos are processed users can immediately broadcast to other Instagram users, Twitter or Facebook directly from the app.

A photo taken with the Instagram app, using the Inkwell filter.
Chenda Ngak

While filters are generally associated with Instagram, the trend began gaining traction on smartphones with the Hipstamatic app in 2009. Other mobile photo-sharing apps, like Path or Camera+, also offer filters much like Instagram. It could be argued that Facebook is only following market demands, however there's been some speculation to the contrary.

"Facebook purchased Instagram to remove the competition," Forbes contributor Patrick Moorhead alleged. If conspiracy theorists were looking for a meaty conversation piece, this might be the bite they'd all cite.

Facebook did not comment on the allegations made by Moorhead, but a spokesperson for the company responded with this statement:

"While our acquisition of Instagram has not yet closed, Mark has stated publically that we're committed to building and growing Instagram independently."

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg announced in April that the social network would acquire Instagram. It was later reported that the social network paid a whopping $1 billion for the company.

Zuckergerg posted on his Facebook wall that the company will "try to learn from Instagram's experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook's strong engineering team and infrastructure."

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Facebook is a closed network consisting of only your friends. Photos can be set to public, but are not searchable outside of Facebook's ecosystem. Although Instagram does not have a website to view individual profiles, the system of hashtags lets users crowdsource photographs from strangers, based on shared interests.

Instagram did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment. In a blog post announcing the Facebook acquisition, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote: "It's important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We'll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. We'll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience."

Ultimately, no one knows for sure what the relationship between Facebook Camera and Instagram will be. While there may be a lot of discourse comparing and contrasting the two apps, they each have their own look and feel.

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