Dec 11, 2012
There’s a big feud between Twitter and Instagram. Ever since Facebook bought Instagram, tensions have risen between the two services. Twitter shut off Instagram’s API access for finding new friends, and Instagram recently disabled their support for Twitter Cards for rich image previews on the web. In short, it’s a mess where users are losing, and it’s because Twitter is falling behind on mobile in comparison to Instagram.
However, to try and close the gap, and to get some people away from Instagram, Twitter has launched a new feature: filtered photos. It’s made its debut on Android, where photos can be edited before sharing. Eight filters can be added to photos, a contrast boost applied, and cropping available. Interestingly â€“ or even appropriately â€“ Twitter developed this feature with Aviary’s photo editing engine. Birds of a feather stick together.
However, it seems as if adding photo filters is missing the point of Instagram: it’s the fact that it is a social network of its own, not just a clearinghouse for filtered photos. Dozens of apps support filtered photos now. But Instagram has built its own community, with its own structure and customs. The fact that it hooks in to other social networks means that it exists as a sharing service as well as its own beast. Facebook may struggle to get its money worth from the service, especially as monetizing it may prove to be a challenge. And of course, social networks come and go. But it’s not just about filtering photos, which feels like a desperate attempt by Twitter to seem hip.
However, it may have a benefit for Twitter, even if it doesn’t make a dent in Instagram usage: its one more reason to get users to stick with the official Twitter apps. Think about it: some people will just want to stick with the filters that Twitter’s providing when they share their photos, and avoid apps that don’t have them. It gets users to stick with Twitter apps, and that’s Twitter’s goal at the moment: bleed out third-party clients in favor of their own, where they control the experience entirely.
As well, this is a boon for Aviary: if you’re trying to sell photo editing technology that can be integrated in other apps on a cross-platform basis, then, well, it’s hard to find a better platform than in the official Twitter app. It could serve as major promotion for them.
So, while these filters may be silly little ways to add stylization to pictures taken with cell phones, they represent something more: the swinging fists of giants trying to jockey for position in the mobile market.