The Rise and Fall of Camera+

Camera+ ($1.99 USD) has quickly become one of the most popular iPhone photography apps to be released.  Most phone cameras are decidedly lo-fi and apps like these make the most out of those tiny cameras.  You can take something lackluster and turn it into a cool image.  The ability to get the shot, make edits, then get it out on the web directly from the device really makes it easy to be creative.  Pro Photographer Chase Jarvis said it best: “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You™“.  Now the iPhone 4 is out with it’s excellent camera and these apps are becoming even more popular.  The success of these apps has sparked the iPhoneography movement.  It’s essentially become the digital version of Lomography.

The Camera+ app itself is very good..  It’s interface is very intuitive and the selection of Scenes, Crops, Effects and Borders are plentiful and easy to use.  The ability to tap and hold one spot to lock focus then use another spot to adjust exposure is fantastic.  The “image stabilizer” is another great feature and works really well.  It uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to detect movement then takes the shot when your most steady.   After your done with the image, you can easily share images to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter or Email directly from the lightbox.

I do have a couple of issues with Camera+.  The main one being that it doesn’t save the original image when you go to save an edited image.  Once the image is edited and saved, you can’t go back to the original.  I wish it had some way to do a “save-as”.  You could take the original image, save it to the iPhone’s camera roll, make a duplicate then go back into Camera+ to edit the duplicate.  But that’s just annoying and a waste of time.  The one feature a lot of users would like to see is the ability to use the iPhone’s volume buttons to take a picture.  I’m sure these fixes and features could be easily added…but that’s where the story goes awry.

Read on…

When Lisa Bettany of announced the Camera+ app in conjunction with TapTapTap a few months ago, it became an instant success. In two months they did $507,221 in net sales!  You would think they wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that kind of income.  But then they tried to add the volume button shutter feature.  Apple rejected the first update because they violated the developer terms.  In Apple’s defense, I agree that changing the iPhone’s interface could be confusing to some and since it’s in violation of the agreement, they had all the right to reject it.  But then TapTapTap did a stupid thing, they re-submitted the app minus the feature then leaked out a “hack” that turned the feature back on.  So essentially, they blatantly circumnavigated Apple’s restrictions.  In response, Apple completely pulled the app from the iTunes App store.  As of this writing, it’s been a few weeks since this happened amd the app is still not in the store.  What’s puzzling is that during all this both TapTapTap and Lisa Bettany have said nothing of the incident.  I’ve requested info from both of them via twitter and have not gotten any response.  This doesn’t bode well for those of us that purchased the app.  Does this mean that we’re not going to see any more improvements in the future?  What happens when iOS 4 get’s an update that breaks the app?

Rival Hipstamatic has some of the same functionality as Camera+, but you have to purchase extra modules for added effects which makes it much more expensive.  I really hope TapTapTap get’s their shit together and works this out with Apple.  They could have easily been totally removed from the App Store program all together then they would have nothing. One of the reasons Apple’s App Store works is the control they have.  It guarantees that apps will work as they should and the user experience isn’t compromised.  What TatTapTap did was a bone headed move and Apple was right to remove the app from the store. Let’s just hope they figure out that they messed up and make nice with Apple again.

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