Instagram feels compelled to catch up.
On Tuesday, the popular photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook and now has more than 200 million users, rolled out a series of updates that increasingly align it with the functionality of a digital camera. traditional. Users who update to Instagram version 6.0 will find 10 new tools that allow them to edit photos for things like brightness, contrast, warmth, and saturation.
True to Instagram’s traditional interface, the new editing tools are simple: black buttons with white icons. But the results are powerful, giving users the kind of imaging capability once reserved for those familiar with Adobe’s cutting-edge Photoshop software.
Until now, many Instagram users have taken photos with their smartphones and then embellished those images with a series of digital filters. Shoot, apply, share. Easy and simple. Now, however, the experience is slightly, well, akin to real photography – at least, the kind that takes a little more time and attention to the editing process than what Instagram users get into. are used to.
Granted, there are currently several apps like Litely and Camera + that do exactly the kind of digital retooling that Instagram now offers, as a recent Wall Street Journal pointed out. item. The desire to see such photo-editing capabilities gathered under one Instagram heading probably played a key role in determining the app’s updates.
For example, in a maintenance with Fast Company, Instagram product designer Chris Connolly admitted that he himself often used external apps before sharing photos on Instagram.
But he also explained that the new tools are the natural evolution of a photographer’s skills. Just as one could go from a standard compact camera to, say, a more complex single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, the photo-sharing app should reflect that progression as well, he says.
“I think, from the way I’ve seen it, the filters are these great cocktail mixes for when you’re starting out, making quick and easy changes,” Mr. Connolly told Fast Company. “But past a certain point there is this urge to take more control and define your own style.”
Connolly’s perspective highlights what New York Times Farhad Manjoo meant when he noted Instagram stands in stark contrast to the majority of the photo-sharing world, which is “dominated by raw, quickly captured and ignored snapshots.”
With photos cluttering up your Facebook feed, Snapchat photos disappearing in a sea of transience just seconds after gracing your screen – often, little or no thought goes into those images, argues Mr. Manjoo. But Instagram, he notes, has carved out a place for itself as a place for beautiful photos, a portfolio where people and places appear in their best light, an heightened form of reality.
It’s a sort of cultural cachet that seems unlikely to fade anytime soon, especially as its percentage of active users rose 23% in 2013, while the second-highest growth among social media, Reddit , rose only 13%, according to a January report by GlobalWebIndex.