Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images
- Twitter has made it easier for people to take videos and photos from inside its app.
- A design tweak means you can swipe left from your timeline, straight into the camera.
- Twitter bills itself as the best place to follow events as they’re happening, and wants to make it easier for people to start broadcasting right away.
- It coincides with the massive popularity of image-oriented apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.
- Twitter says videos and images captured through its camera will look a little different to uploaded media, in a bid to ensure authenticity.
Twitter has made it easier to take pictures and video from within its app, thanks to a design tweak that gives users access to the camera in a single swipe.
The design update means that you can open the Twitter app and land on your main timeline as usual, but then swipe left straight into the camera.
Previously, the app didn’t do anything when you swiped left from the timeline. Getting to the in-app camera used to be a two-stage process that required you to open the tweet composer, then hit the camera icon.
Here’s how the new design looks:
Twitter is billing this as an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary change, but one that makes it easier for people to see what’s going on in real-time. The redesigned camera lets you take pictures, capture video, and broadcast live from inside the app.
If you have location switched on within Twitter, the camera will work out if you’re at a major event and suggest suitable hashtags for you to post alongside your video or image. If you are, for example, attending a football game, Twitter will work out that you’re at the stadium and perhaps suggest the match hashtag for your post.
The design tweak is, perhaps, a very belated nod to the rise of image-focused apps like Instagram and Snapchat, which have prioritised visual storytelling over text. Twitter is comparatively wonkish, and its 280-character post limit has perhaps kept it more focused on pithy written updates than imagery.
"Obviously there are a lot of camera apps out there," Twitter’s VP of product Keith Coleman told Business Insider. "Cameras on phones are much better, and people are used to having a phone in their pocket to take pictures with. Certainly, that makes all of this possible.
"For us, we think where Twitter is useful is pretty distinct. There are lots of other apps where you can see what friends are doing… what Twitter does, it’s the place to see what’s happening."
There is definite scope for mischief by making it easier for people to post video and images to Twitter.
A video showing the encounter between Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann and Native American activist Nathan Phillips went viral, in part thanks to being pushed by an unknown Twitter account called @2020fight. The video wasn’t inauthentic but subsequent, longer footage gave a fuller picture of the events. US lawmakers are now interested in who was behind the Twitter account.
Twitter doesn’t necessarily have a solution for the precise Covington Catholic problem, which is one of context, but said videos and images shot through the in-app camera would look different to uploaded media.
"Things taken with the new camera will look different," Coleman said. "The idea of the new camera is that this was something from your phone, you were on location, it’s much more likely to be real, on-the-ground footage."
An early look at Twitter’s new camera feature
Business Insider had an early play with the feature and, from what we can see, this has meant overlaying image or footage with a big coloured box.
Shona Ghosh/Business Insider
The overlay doesn’t look especially elegant and, as far as we can tell, it only appears via the app and not via the web version of Twitter. Coleman stresses that this is very much "version 1.0."
He added that the update was designed partly with journalists in mind, since they’re most likely to be regularly posting newsworthy updates on the platform. To that end, anyone clicking into video shot via Twitter can swipe up and see additional context and commentary, which could be useful for following breaking news.
"We see this as an evolution, one of many evolutionary steps we’re making in the product," Coleman said. "And it is part of a much bigger story of how do we help you see and talk about events. This is one step in that bigger story."
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