Stop Comparing Instagram to Snapseed

Today, Google announced their acquisition of Nik Software, creators of the wildly popular iOS photo editing tool, Snapseed. It is, hands down, my favorite photography app for the iPhone and iPad. Snapseed, more than Adobe’s Photoshop Express or Mobile Pond’s Photogene, provide much more granular control over your images. In fact, I’d say it’s much closer to any desktop image editing tool (Lightroom, anyone?) than any other offering in iOS.

TechCrunch wrote about the acquisition, and in their post, said:

Snapseed is, at its core, very similar to Instagram and allows users to apply filters and perform other photo editing tasks on their mobile devices and on the desktop.

Reuters’ headline for the story was “Google buys Instagram Rival Nik Software”.

CNBC writes

Much like Facebook’s Instagram, Snapseed allows users to apply filters to pictures and use other photo editing tools.

The Verge gets at this rivalry as well, proclaiming

Google takes on Instagram and Facebook by acquiring top iOS photo app Snapseed

I’m sure the team at Nik cringed at these stories. Likely, the Instagram team did as well, but for a different reason.

I responded to the article on TechCrunch with this comment, but it applies to the entire “Instagram vs. Snapseed” rivalry comparison:

The comparison of Snapseed to Instagram is entirely misguided. Instagram is a stand-alone social network. It also happens to have 18 filters for applying different effects to cropped, 1×1 ratio square photos. That’s it. This isn’t photo EDITING. It’s photo FILTERING with a social network at its foundation.

Snapseed, in contrast, gives granular control over dozens of elements of an image, while maintaining the original aspect ratio of the photo. Does it have preset filters? Yes, but only in the basic sense of the word ‘filter’. If you use the ‘Drama’ feature, it’s not so much a ‘filter’ as much as a style with dozens of options within it for modifying that style. Last I checked, Toaster was Toaster, Walden was Walden, and Valencia was Valencia. Oh, and Snapseed has absolutely ZERO social network framework. That’s, you know, the bigger deal than the whole filters thing. Facebook didn’t buy IG for the filters. Facebook bought IG for the social network. 

So, no, at its core, Snapseed is not very similar to Instagram.


Instagram is a photo sharing social network that also happens to contain static, filtered effects you can apply to photos. Snapseed is as near-desktop class photo editing tool as you’re going to get on a mobile device, but with no social network elements, whatsoever. That’s why Instagram is free and Snapseed is $4.99. 

The above photo is one I took and did post-processing with in Snapseed. Does it look like any Instagram photo you’ve ever seen before?


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