Facebook is working on a Snapchat-like camera-first app

26 Apr 2016

Facebook is working on a camera-first app to get more users to post photos and videos. Will this be enough to stop Snapchat snapping at its heels?

Facebook wants users to share more photos and Live video streams and is building a standalone camera-first app to bolster its efforts. But is it too little, too late in the face of growing video competition from Snapchat?

While Facebook already owns Instagram and WhatsApp, it is on something of a roll with video and recently opened up its Live video-streaming platform for all users and not just a select few publishers and celebrities.

The alarming reality is Snapchat, with between 200m and 300m users, has only a fraction of Facebook’s 1.5bn users.

But it is catching up with it in video terms, with 7bn videos posted daily, which is very close to Facebook’s 8bn on desktop and mobile.

Facebook is understood to be quite anxious about the dawning reality that users are sharing more media and less information and photos about themselves and their lives.

This is terrifying for the social network because it strikes at its entire reason for being in the first place.

Reversing this trend and encouraging users to once again be the product is a priority at the social network.

Will Facebook’s camera-first app be a stitch in time?

It is understood that Facebook’s friend-sharing team is working on an app that opens direct to camera, a feature that is a long-time standard on Snapchat.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the project is in its early stages and may never see the light of day.

Another planned feature of the app is to allow users to record Live streaming videos.

A camera-first app is something Facebook easily could have deployed a long time ago when Snapchat first appeared on the horizon as a threat. Five-year-old unicorn Snapchat is now valued at $16bn.

Facebook could be wrestling with the reality that there is a generation of teenagers who have yet to use Facebook for the first time, preferring Snapchat as their social network of choice.

Not a pretty picture at all for Facebook.

Selfie image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years