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Facebook is the toast of the tech world, rocky IPO notwithstanding. But for all the talk of a mobile, app-based future, Big Blue's mobile apps are constantly playing catch-up with the browser-based version. Facebook is a photo-sharing service first and foremost, yet Facebook apps still treat it as an afterthought.
Plenty of third-party apps can post photos to your wall or timeline, but none of them take full advantage of Facebook's photo features. Instagram was the first social photo app to emerge as a real contender, so Facebook bought the small startup for a billion bucks—nipping the competition in the bud and bringing along some mobile expertise. Hot on the heels of that acquisition, Facebook has released their first dedicated photo app, the aptly titled Facebook Camera for iOS.
Tagging is finally made simple. Until now, tagging friends in photos from your phone has been as fun as sitting in traffic. Now it's integrated into the upload and sharing process. On the whole, the shooting and sharing process is pain-free. There's an in-app camera, but it also pulls in your entire camera roll for sharing. Location info and privacy settings can also be tweaked prior to uploading.
And for those of us who think that the standard Facebook news feed is full of too much inane chatter, the Facebook Camera news feed strips it down. There's a slick new like/comment/tag interface, but by default, it displays just photos and captions.
As a standalone photography app, it's nothing special. Edits are limited to cropping and a handful of chintzy filters and effects—not the same filters that made Instagram so popular. Users can only post to their own timelines, not any of their pages or friends' timelines.
Well, it's free, but there are hundreds of better photography apps and just about all of them can post pictures to Facebook. Tagging alone should be compelling enough for Facebook junkies to make the switch, but the rest of us might as well keep using our apps of choice. The next version needs to be a more complete version of what Facebook has to offer—integrate Instagram's strengths, or better yet, just fold all of the features into one complete Facebook app.