Battle of the Mobile Social Photo Apps: Instagram vs PicPlz vs Burstn

Instagram for the iPhone is hot, right? That it is, but have you seen PicPlz? It turns out that both companies offer very similar social photo apps and as of tonight’s news – both are funded by the hot VC firm Andreesen Horowitz. (It appears the conflict of interest was resolved in PicPlz’s favor.)

PicPlz is a very nice app – some people will like it better than Instagram – and it’s available already on Android. Were that not dramatic enough – a third (very similar) entrant just hit the iTunes App Store tonight. Burstn is from Hollywood and it does some things that neither Instagram nor PicPlz do. Which app should you use? Check out the feature-by-feature comparison of these three apps below.

These are little apps, but their impact on the web need not be small.

Why do people care about any of these apps? Because they are a fun way to capture memories, to share those memories with friends and to easily store photos taken on your phone back online. These are the kinds of apps that many people reuse every day.

Add geolocation and we’ve got an even-larger army than ever before of people running around with their phones visually annotating maps of the world. These are little apps, but their impact on the web need not be small.

Instagram

You probably know Instagram, if you’ve got an iPhone. It’s growing fast and offers the following:

  • Publishing to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Flickr. It’s the only one of the 3 that publishes to Flickr, which is nice for long-term storage and sharing with friends and family.

  • Instagram comes with 11 filters, the largest number of the 3 services.

  • Its mobile interface is really slick. Its web interface is almost non-existent. It does have the only cool name of the three competitors, though.

PicPlz

PicPlz has a different look and feel but similar functionality. It’s got a healthy number of early users and just announced its funding tonight. It offers:

  • Publishing to Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare – no Flickr.

  • PicPlz will auto-publish and auto-follow to and from your Facebook crew, if you choose.

  • You can see the number of views that all the photos have had – yours and other peoples’.

  • 6 filters are available and they look a little more hokey than the Instagram filters.

  • It’s already available on Android.

Burstn

Burstn is the newest of these 3 apps and it’s really fast and easy to use. It offers:

  • Super fast account creation.

  • It connects only to Facebook and Twitter, no Flickr and no Foursquare.

  • This app uses Twitter and Facebook authentication properly and securely, you don’t see that often enough.

  • No filters, but have you heard? The iPhone 4 has a really great camera built in!

  • Preview mode shows you the shots you’ve taken before they are uploaded, Instant mode just queues them up for rapid-fire upload.

  • Burstn settings are sophisticated.

  • The web interface may be the best of the three and the way you can scroll through albums on a user’s profile page is really nice.

  • When you take or select a photo, topical hashtags are offered to include in the caption, like #fashion #scenic or #food.

Depending on your needs, interests and User Experience proclivities – one of these three apps will probably satisfy your mobile social photo needs. It’s a crying shame that they can’t read each others’ photos – that you can’t see in your Instagram feed the photos published by Facebook contacts on Burstn. Perhaps that means this is just early days in this space.

There’s no guarantee these services will evolve as quickly and as well as they might, of course. Look at the opportunity Flickr missed, it could have beat all these products years ago, but it didn’t.

Title photo by Alan Levine, of D’Arcy Norman, who is an Instagram user.

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