Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

Twitter unveiled its new camera feature at SXSW this week, 12 years after the social micro-blog made its initial splash as a hot new app at the Austin, Texas conference. Over the next week, Twitter users on iOS and Android devices will start to have access to the in-app camera for recording and sharing photos and short videos. It also includes the option to livestream from the user’s location, while Twitter will recommend nearby locations to tag and relevant event hashtags if geolocating services are turned on. Additionally, the upgrade allows users to add captions and change the tweet text background color.

To activate the new feature, “Open the app, then swipe left to open the camera,” explains Wired. “You can either capture a still by tapping the camera button or hold the button to record video, up to two minutes and 40 seconds. You can also toggle over to ‘Live’ to stream from your location.”

If users opt to include a local event hashtag, the “photo shows up in the stream of other tweets and images also using it,” notes Wired. “Users of Snapchat might recognize this as something similar to what it did with the local Our Story feature.” Other popular apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat already feature in-app cameras and geolocating.

“Twitter is clearly trying to compete in an increasingly visual-focused world,” according to Wired. “But it’s also a small but interesting step in the transition of a company that understands its place in society as a means to engage with real-time information. This seems like a natural extension of the way people already use Twitter: as a way to capture a moment and quickly send it out to the world.”

On a larger scale, the company introduced its first public “look at a new prototype for the Twitter app,” reports NBC News, “which the company is calling ‘twttr’ in a nod to CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet. The prototype includes numerous upgrades “to how Twitter looks and operates, centered on a new format for conversations and color-coded replies.”

Many of the upgrades focus on visuals. “As the company demonstrated at CES, the prototype app will show a different format for replies, where conversations themselves have a more rounded chat-like shape and are indented so they’re easier to follow,” TechCrunch adds. “Engagements, sharing options and other tweet details are hidden from view in order to simplify reading through longer threads. And, most notably, the different types of replies are color-coded to designate those from the original poster as well as those Twitter users you personally follow.”

The changes are part of the company’s initiative to promote “healthy conversation.” While updates include moving “engagement counts for replies behind a tap … designed to make Twitter a little friendlier,” the company is also focusing on improved enforcement regarding the “takedown of accounts spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories.”

“The app is a public beta test and the changes may never be integrated into Twitter’s core experience,” explains NBC.