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Facebook's New App Moments Lets You Share Photos Outside of Facebook

Facebook hopes sharing more photos leads to posting more photos.


Facebook already offers lots of ways for people to share their photos with friends, be it WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook itself. Now it wants to help users share photos without posting them online at all.

The social network on Monday rolled out Moments, a free photo-sharing app that lets users create shared photo albums with friends from their smartphones. The photos are then stored in the cloud for free.

For example, you can share pictures from your weekend hiking trip with a friend or a group of friends, who can then add their own pics to the album. (Moments only stores photos you’ve shared, but it won’t back up your entire camera roll like, say, Google Photos.)

You do, however, need a Facebook account to use Moments. It’s how the app finds friends for you to share with — your Facebook friends. Moments even incorporates Facebook’s facial recognition technology so it can identify which of your friends are in each photo.

Facebook product manager Will Ruben says that despite the many ways you can share photos with friends — and there are many, like email, text message, iPhone photo albums, or even Facebook — none of them are as convenient as Moments or include a built-in social graph like you get with Facebook. Sharing photos back to Facebook or Instagram wasn’t his main focus when building the app, but more sharing should be a byproduct.

“We’re primarily interested in solving a problem people have, which is they don’t have all the photos their friends take of them,” Ruben told Re/code. “Sometimes we want to share [those photos], so to the extent that not having those photos is getting in the way of sharing them, Moments should help with that.”

Moments is yet another app from Facebook Creative Labs, the company’s internal initiative to create more standalone apps. It’s the eighth app to come out of the company since January 2014, but its predecessors haven’t stuck with consumers the way Facebook would like.

Paper, the company’s first Creative Labs experiment, hasn’t been in the top 1,500 apps in the U.S. App Store since 2014, according to App Annie. Slingshot, another project lead by Ruben that was originally pegged as a Snapchat competitor because of its ephemeral messaging functionality, fell out of the top 1,500 apps less than a month after launch and hasn’t returned. Rooms, an app launched in October aiming to revive the anonymous chat room, disappeared from the top 1,500 in just one week.

Facebook clearly doesn’t stress about the perceived failures. It keeps building more apps and hasn’t shut down the existing ones. Moments is more of a utility than some of the other apps to come out of the program, so perhaps it will catch on the way some of the other consumer products haven’t.

The app is available for free on both iOS and Android beginning Monday.

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