We knew well before Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars that people really liked photo apps on their iPhones and Androids. We did not know how tricked-out these apps would become in order to compete with Instagram. Not only do photo apps have filters that can make even the blandest picture look like a work of art, they're also taking time into account. Because we've all been in that situation where a single image just won't do and a video is too much of a commitment, we've picked three freshly updated apps that offer alternatives to your standard camera: Color (version 3), Snapchat, and Gifture.
You probably heard about Color last year when after they'd raised $41 million to produce social photo-sharing app. Now in its third iteration, Color has partnered with Verizon to offer an app that can shoot and stream live video up to 30 seconds long. Users with Verizon 3G and 4G phones will now be able to broadcast their videos in 720p high resolution. (Eventually, it will be able to handle 1080p.) You can also freeze individual frames and share them like photos. While it still needs to be field tested, the new Color sounds like a big improvement over previous versions. Last March, Color launched version one which allowed you to snap pictures and share them with people around you, but the idea didn't take off. Six months later they tried again, this time with Facebook integration and a silent video feature. This didn't take off either. While the network restriction will certainly put up one barrier to widespread adoption, Color's founder and CEO Bill Nguyen is optimistic about the possibility of the new model. He told The New York Times' Jenna Wortham, "The phone is the new TV when it comes to entertainment, and live opens up engagement."
Snapchat is a different kind of live experience. According to write up by The Times' Nick Bilton, Instead of sending your friends video, this app allows you to share photos and then control the amount of time that it's available on your friend's phone. You simply set a time when you're sending the image -- up to ten seconds -- and then after the time runs out, it disappears and can't be viewed again. If you try to take a screenshot of the image, Snapchat alerts the original sender. Obviously, this is an excellent utility for sexting. There's no need to worry about naked pictures leaking to the press and ruining your political career. With Snapchat, they're simply thrown away where they can never be found again. The app's design is also very cute.
Just when we thought these photo apps couldn't get any more gimmicky, we found Gifture. Gifture looks and works a lot like Instagram but instead of just taking still, single frame shots, it can make animated gifs on the fly. This is an amazing perk for any Redditors or Tumblr addicts out there. Simply point and shoot for each from of the animated gif, add a filter and then share with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or text message. Even if you're not much of a photographer, this app could be the key to producing your first animated short. It couldn't be easier.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.