Facebook thinks it has its next hit app on its hands to follow Messenger with its private photo-sharing service, Moments.
The social media company has now announced that it will soon discontinue its support onr photo syncing. Instead, it is asking users to install its new Moments app through a pop-up notification that appears at the top of the News Feed. It means if you want to continue to access photos you have privately synced from your phone, you will no longer be able to find these in a separate album on Facebook. You will need to install the Moments app.
Facebook had already been pushing Facebook Moments more than many of its other standalone applications, through a combination of News Feed promotions and Messenger integration. This might be another clue that Facebook felt the app had big potential – previously, the company watched dozens of apps and features die off, preferring natural selection to clear out those that can’t succeed on their own.
The app, which allows users to privately share photos with select friends, has been climbing the app store charts over the past few months as Facebook lent its strength to give the app more visibility across its social network and on its instant messaging service. When a user shares photos with friends on Moments, the app pushes a message that tells the friend they have photos waiting to the recipient’s Notifications feed on Facebook and to their Messenger app. This has encouraged viral adoption among Facebook’s user base.
Now Facebook is transitioning users who relied on the photo-syncing feature to Moments.
Photo-syncing, in case you’re unfamiliar, was launched several years ago to offer mobile users an easier way to back up and upload their photos to Facebook’s service. The app would run in the background, syncing photos to a private album on Facebook where they could later be edited, shared, or deleted, as users saw fit. The feature was a big deal at the time as photos have been one of the core drivers for return visits and time on the site. To shut it down entirely in favor of Moments is nearly as bold a move as when Facebook ripped out Messenger functionality within its flagship app last year, forcing users to download the standalone version of Messenger in order to chat with friends on mobile.
Since Moments takes advantage of facial recognition to suggest who to share your photos with, it was not made available in Europe due to the region’s privacy protection regulations. We suspected that Facebook would have to release a version of the app in Europe that doesn’t include the facial recognition functionality, as that’s how it has handled similar matters in the past. However, as the plan for the time being is to only phase out photo syncing on Facebook in the countries where Moments is available.