Mike Isaac

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Twitter Aims to Release Photo Filters in Time for the Holidays

Jack Dorsey/Twitter

Forget Lo-Fi and Toaster. There may be a sepia-toned little bird under the tree this Christmas.

Twitter is making a big push to release a series of photo filters to be used inside the official Twitter app before the end of the year, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The goal is to release the camera filters in an application update in time for the holiday season, these sources say. The new version of the app is currently in testing, which may be why we’re seeing Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey post so many black-and-white filtered photos of his Square employees (not to mention the wing of his plane at takeoff, posted just this Saturday morning).

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Why push it out before the new year? Perhaps Twitter wants a cut of the inevitable jump in photos we’ll see as everyone goes home for the holidays. Instagram, for instance, saw more than 200 Thanksgiving-related photos posted to its service every second on Thanksgiving Day alone, and ten million Thanksgiving photos posted overall that day. I’d imagine that number will only leap come Christmas and New Year’s.

Keep in mind, this all falls against the backdrop of Instagram, the massively popular Facebook-owned photo app, giving Twitter the ultimate snub on Wednesday, turning off “Cards” functionality and no longer showing Instagram photos properly inside the Twitter stream.

That was the most recent shot in what some have called “the photo wars,” as Instagram and Twitter face off to keep users inside their respective platforms. Facebook’s News Feed has seen a boost in engagement thanks to Instagram photos, as has Twitter’s stream.

But as the mobile-centric Instagram has beefed up its Web presence over the past month, the company is aiming to wean its fan base off of viewing its photos inside of Twitter, instead directing users over to the Instagram Web site.

It’s also worth noting that Google+ recently pushed out its own photo-editing app, Snapseed, just this week.

Twitter’s photo filter initiative — which was first reported by the New York Times and since confirmed by yours truly — is important. The Valley knows that the visual experience is where the consumer Web is headed. It’s why Mark Zuckerberg paid $715 million for Instagram. It’s why Twitter revamped its “Discover” tab, focusing on a more photo-centric experience. It’s the impetus behind the Twitter Cards project.

So with only a few weeks before the holidays, the clock is ticking. And Instagram, with its 100-million-plus users, shows no signs of stopping. Time to buckle down, team Twitter.


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First the NSA came for, well, jeez pretty much everybody’s data at this point, and I said nothing because wait how does this joke work

— Parker Higgins via Twitter