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VSCO Cam gets social, but Instagram can keep the hearts and hashtags

Caitlin McGarry | Feb. 13, 2014
An iOS update brings social features to popular photo-editing app VSCO Cam, but it's still all about the images

vsco cam

VSCO Cam has become a beloved photo-editing app because it places the focus squarely on your images and avoids the social traps created by other apps. That changed Wednesday with the launch of VSCO Cam 3.0 for iOS.

Since launching in 2012, VSCO Cam's developers have shied away from the tried and true follow-like-comment model of photo-sharing networks like Instagram. But the app is getting a little more social by letting iOS users find and follow other photographers. The change follows the launch last June of VSCO Grid, a way for photographers to publish their work in a public feed of sorts. The platform was only available to a limited number of users when it first rolled out, but is now fully integrated into the app.

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VSCO Cam's social Grid is still full of beautiful images.

When Grid was introduced, its developers were quick to halt any talk of social networking. "While we are interested in genuine, human connections, VSCO Grid is not a social network. You'll noticed an absence of standard social network fare: comments, reblogs, number of followers, etc. We hope people discover new creatives and their work, but VSCO Grid is focused on craft, curation, and content, and less on followers and likes."

That's still true, to an extent. Though you can follow photographers, you can't see how many followers a user has, nor can you comment on or heart their work like you can on Instagram. Another major difference that sets VSCO Cam apart is its user base. Instagram has racked up 150 million monthly active users, only a small percentage of which are actually great photographers. VSCO Cam's emphasis on art is evident when you scroll through your Grid. This is still a photography-lover's app, which is a good thing. I love Instagram, but hate scrolling through a feed full of hashtag overkill and plaintive cries of, "Follow me back pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease."

Social features aside, VSCO Cam 3.0 improves upon the streamlined shooting and editing tools users know and love, from auto-saving images and pinch-to-zoom to better cropping and image-straightening. The filter selection and editing abilities from version 2.0 have stuck around.

The app also now includes privacy settings that let you turn off location settings, so your photos' metadata doesn't automatically include geotags.

VSCO Cam 3.0 is only available for iOS right now, but an update will be rolling out to Android in the "near future."


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