Twitter refocuses on Instagram, adds photo-tagging to Android app

Twitter added an update to its Android app this week that will make posting photos to the micro-blogging service a better experience. 

The Twitter update introduces a new suite of photo-editing options, like cropping according to aspect, and rotating images. The new tool also 012014_android_update_screen2prompts users to tag their friends with the @ symbol. 

In addition to the photo tools, the update also gives Android users a selection of recommended tweets, trending topics, and users to follow if they try to refresh their feed and there’s nothing new (although, how often does that happen?). Users in the U.S. will also see TV, sports, and news events updates. 

Twitter noted that the update is coming to iPhone in the future, so this appears to be the impending standard for the mobile app.

This decision to introduce new photo tools underscores Twitter’s desire to compete with Instagram. When Twitter began, the emphasis was on text-based communication, and in many ways Twitter still privileges words in a way its competitors do not. Twitter already offers some photo-editing tools, but these adjustments will help it compete with Instagram as a photo-sharing destination. Of course, Twitter did something similar (adding filters to compete with Instagram) back in 2012, and it didn’t really work. The company will need to make more substantial layout changes if it wants to become a primary place to share photos. 

The Android update’s @-symbol prompting, in particular, resembles the tagging function on Instagram and Facebook. It will be harder to get Twitter users to tag their friends, since @-mentions count toward the 140-character limit. Tagging a group photo, for instance, wouldn’t work. 

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: