Instagram is moving its focus from a photo-sharing app to shopping and video. This leaves a gap for photographers who need a social platform for their photo-sharing experience. Tom Watson, former product designer at Facebook and Pinterest noted that photographers do not have a social platform to share their photos for quite a while. He along with Stefan Borsje is introducing Glass, a subscription-based iOS app dedicated to photographers as a solution.
Watson was himself attached to photography. That’s why when Flickr was acquired by Yahoo, he felt sad. He loved that platform. He said that Instagram tried to pick up the same space but after getting acquired by Facebook, it has then started changing its platform. That’s why he co-founded Glass. Its monthly subscription will cost $4.99 and $29.99 if paid together for a year. This subscription is unfamiliar to people like us. So, we are not sure whether people will be willing to pay for an app monthly. It can be tried for free for the first 14 days but your payment information will be taken to App Store from the beginning. Therefore, if people forget to delete the app before the trial period gets over if they don’t want to continue, they will still have to pay the monthly fee. This may become a barrier to the app’s success. But Watson and Borsje said that they adapted this model because their project does not have any funding or ad revenue now. They are only looking for a solution to the photographer community. Watson said that if they take up venture capital, the focus will be shifted away from the photographer community.
The Glass app is essentially designed for photography. The posts will come in a feed of pictures which is made to avoid maximum distraction. The entire screen will be occupied by the photos. Even the name of the person who posted it will be seen only if it is dragged to the right. On clicking on an image, the caption and other details of the photo will appear.
You can interact socially through comments, but there are no likes on photos – this is a deliberate design choice, though Watson says some people have requested a like button, even if it’s merely to let them bookmark images for later viewing. Glass will introduce discovery tools, such as photo categories, in the coming weeks. Users can also request features and upvote or downvote other users’ ideas on Glass’ feedback board. If Glass decides to pursue an idea further, it will be marked as “in progress” on the board.
Even though it’s still in its early stages, Glass already distinguishes itself from Instagram and VSCO by providing EXIF data, which is like candy for the “photography nerds” Glass aims to recruit. The ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and focal length of a photograph are all displayed in the EXIF data. People were drawn to Flickr because of the data and sense of community in its early days, but when Yahoo granted free users access to one terabyte of data, it became more of a personal repository than a community. It became more of a personal store than a community with one terabyte of data. When SmugMug bought Flickr from Yahoo in 2018, it sought to make amends by limiting free users to 1000 photos and warning that if they didn’t switch to a paid plan, their photos would be deleted.
Glass also appeals to photographers because it allows for a larger range of image sizes in the app — the maximum aspect ratio is 16 x 9, which fits ordinary camera photos. However, even after Instagram ditched the square image theme, it’s still impossible to publish vertical photos from most cameras without cropping them. Glass, like VSCO, does not show how many followers each person has, but it does show comments. While you won’t be able to see how many followers someone else has, you will be able to see who is following your account.
“We believed it was critical for safety. You need to know who is following you and be able to block them,” Watson explained. “From the beginning, we wanted to include blocking and reporting features.”
Watson wouldn’t say how many people have downloaded the app so far, but he did say he’s “very pleased” with the reception to Glass. In August, the app went live with a waitlist, and on Wednesday, it became available to all iOS users. The purpose of the waitlist wasn’t to create buzz but to ensure that the user experience was as smooth as possible and that the app didn’t become overburdened. Watson told in August that Glass was sending out hundreds of invites each day at the time of the app’s queue launch.
Watson remarked, “I’ve been on the internet for a long time and I used to feel that there was a cosier, safer area.” “I’m hoping that by having this membership model, these venues will seem a little bit more like that again.”