28 November 2016 13:48:48 IST

The camera is the new keyboard

Click, edit, caption and share: the way forward in chatting

It has been a season of updates. Messenger apps Hike and WhatsApp, both recently introduced video calling features. Hike also introduced a camera within the app, with live filters built on top of it. As Hike’s young founder Kavin Mittal says, “I really believe that camera is the new keyboard.”

Well, he’s certainly on to something. Today, in the new visual world, it’s all about photos — a social camera has almost become a necessary feature. A number of apps (Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp) have an inbuilt camera that saves you the trouble of going out of the app to shoot something, so you can seamlessly intersperse text with photo or video, and illustrate what you want to convey — be it a mood, a scene or a product.

To top it all, Instagram too recently launched disappearing live videos and ephemeral messages feature, a la Snapchat. It even gives notifications when somebody tries to take a snapshot of it.

Several people today ingeniously use the camera feature of their chat messengers to further their businesses. For instance, the lady who runs the neighbourhood boutique often sends images of new cloth material when it arrives at her store, and pattern ideas on WhatsApp, managing to get orders without a customer visiting her store.

The dawn of editing apps

If camera is the new word in the chat lexicon, can editing apps be far behind? No self-respecting millennial will post a pic — especially a selfie — without giving it a touch-up. . No wonder photo editing apps are all the rage!

Mobile app analytics platform Flurry, in its app retention and engagement report, found that photo editing apps score high in terms of frequency of use, but they are retained only for a finite amount of time — that is, until the next interesting app comes along.

Google Snapseed, Cymera Photo and Beauty Editor are some of the top downloaded editing apps that enhance pictures greatly and help up your Instagram game.

Given these developments, it’s not surprising that desi start-ups too are coming up in the social camera space. There’s Vebbler, a made-in-India social app which works the other way around, when compared with chat apps — it is camera first, captions later.

While the app launched in August this year has interesting art filters and also a facility to share pictures easily with a group of friends, the drawback is that it is not intuitive enough. Also, though it boasts of 70,000 downloads already, it does not have the requisite user base yet to make it a fun place to be on. But the fact that it has raised a round of funding (₹3.34 crore) from a syndicate of 16 investors shows that this space is worth watching out for.