Photo filters are nothing new in the world of mobile. But as the New Year looms, it appears they are going to be the defining area in which app-makers and mobile manufacturers do battle in 2013.
Last week, Instagram switched off compatibility with Twitter’s Cards function, bringing an end to users of the social network being able to see Instagram photos in their timeline.
Now, Twitter is said to be readying its own in-app filter solution with staff including chairman Jack Dorsey testing the new service which will form part of its new mobile app.
The update is set to be released before Christmas, as Twitter looks to score big with users giving it a whirl over the busy party season. So, why is this such a big deal? The most obvious reason is the fact that Instagram is now owned by Facebook.
This is essentially a new front in the battle between the latter and Twitter.
Both are looking to get more users on side, getting them to spend longer on their respective mobile platforms in order to sell more ads and, ultimately, make a lot of cash. More so than any other area, in mobile filtered images are what excite both Twitter and Instagram.
The latter now has more daily active users than the former according to comScore research released in September, with 7.3 million people using Instagram in August compared to 6.9 million using Twitter.
Twitter knows that words are not enough and that having images appear in its smartphone app’s timeline are essential for keeping users around for longer. This skirmish, though, is only the beginning.
Expect both sides to trumpet about how many people used their respective filtering services over Christmas and New Year, before releasing ever more elaborate and deep integrated updates.
Whatever Facebook and Twitter say about offering end users amazing ‘authentic’ experiences, this is about getting smartphone users to spend more time using their apps, upping ad revenue.
Of course, this isn’t confined to the world’s key social networks.
Critically acclaimed Snapseed, owned by Google, has just released an impressive update to its iOS app which adds Google+ sharing. Not to mention the fact it’s now free too.
Facebook is also likely to bring Instagram features to its own iOS and Android apps, while you can bet manufacturers such as Apple are looking to bring such features to their smartphones for 2013.
Images have become so much more important than words when it comes to social networking, especially when updates are being sent from smartphones.
Expect to be reading and seeing plenty more about the fight for your tweaked photos in the next 12 months.