By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Facebook paid a billion dollars for Instagram last April possibly because Instagram was only for mobile devices. As of this week, Facebook has put Instagram on the web, and now, we’ll find out whether Mark Zuckerberg’s big investment was worth it.
However, Instagram is silent. Pictures might be worth a thousand words to some people, but for the most part, nobody can hear them. Enter PhotoBlab, from Thomas Kirk, the director of live video and visuals for the rock band Muse, who has never created an app before.
PhotoBlab is his first app, and it’s pretty darned interesting. Instead of just taking a picture of an old man cranking away on a hurdy-gurdy on the streets of Prague, you can display five images of the guy plus a minute or so of his actual hurdy-gurdy-ing, as the official Muse account did a couple months ago with its own PhotoBlab account (web version pictured below).
The app is simple to use, unlike this app, which has also attempted the “Instagram for audio” maneuver. You simply take some photos (or choose them from your camera roll), record some audio to go with them, edit that audio if you want, and then share it — thankfully not only on the relatively unknown PhotoBlab, but also on Twitter, Facebook, or good old-fashioned email. You can add up to five photos.
Then you either record new audio, or select some from your voice memos — up to 10 seconds for free, or two minutes if you upgrade to the paid version for a dollar. This versatility makes PhotoBlab great for two things: documenting stuff as it happens, and sifting through photos and recordings to send something out later — a classic example of the latter would be sending out quick photo/audio montages from the airport on your way back from vacation (not to mention a lot less onerous on your friends and relatives than inviting them over for a viewing party at your house).
As with Instagram, you can then add some filters — and then you’re off to the races, sharing your “blab” publicly or privately. If you email it to yourself, you can get a web link like this (in other words, PhotoBlab is on the web too, just like the new Instagram).
It’s impossible to predict which new social networks and “life sharing” apps are going to take off, but PhotoBlab A) does something none of the current big players do, and B) is easy enough to use that people who don’t normally record sound will be able to manage it. And that can’t hurt.