VSCO Cam is easily one of the strongest mobile editing apps out there, offering Android and iOS users a ton of tools to make alterations on the go. But up until now, the platform has been exclusively focused on improving its editing capabilities, introducing a huge redesign late last year with a ton of new presets. With that, though, VSCO also gave us a small hint the service might one day become social with Grid profiles, and the company on Wednesday rolled out a new social-focused update that puts it in direct competition with Instagram—sort of.
In VSCO Cam 3.0 for iPhone, users can now start following other users inside the app, and essentially create a feed similar to the one we’re already familiar with on Instagram. The layout is a little tricky to grasp at first, but finding people to follow shouldn’t be a problem. Under Grid in the options pane that pops out from the left, you’ll see one big feed of popular profiles on VSCO; click on that profile’s name, and you’ll jump into their feed, where you’ll see the usual information: name, location, external links, etc. There’s also a follow button; click it and that person’s feed will be added to your main “Home” feed, which can be accessed from the pop out menu.
Feeds are extremely minimal at the moment, actually making VSCO feeds feel less social than something like Instagram, which is all about connecting and trying to gain followers. But VSCO said it made a conscious decision not to replicate other social networks. VSCO pictures can’t be liked, or even commented on, and you’ll only get detailed information about a specific photo (where it was taken, author’s comment) when you tap on it. VSCO co-founder Joel Flory likened the service’s approach to a museum, saying you can’t look at art on the wall and write comments or give it a “like.”
VSCO Cam has always been about putting the art of photography first, and even though it’s gotten a little more social, being able to explore the work of others adds a deeper discovery layer to the platform. You can’t tag friends or upload video, but you can share (there’s a persistent share button throughout VSCO), and it’s easy to explore feeds handpicked by VSCO staff—they feature pictures much more interesting than what dominates Instagram’s explore section.
In addition to making it easier to explore and discover outstanding photos, VSCO Cam 3.0 also introduces new tilt and level adjustments in the app’s camera, preset ordering, pinch-to-zoom in Detail view and the ability to autosave to Camera Roll. It isn’t clear when these features will transition over to Android, but the company has kept parity between the two platforms ever since the Android app hit in December, so we can probably expect something to hit soon.