Betaworks waded into the photo sharing market Friday with a new iPhone app called Swirl, which is aimed at making it easy for people to create albums using a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Users who want to create a set of photos together just put a shared hashtag in their picture.
Swirl takes the hashtagged photos and puts them in a set called a Swirl, but each Swirl is only comprised of photos from people you are friends with or follow. Users can see accompanying tweets and comments and location information. This can be used to collect pictures from the same event or to aggregate photos from friends who are in different locations but reacting to the same event, like the elections, for example. But you’ll need to use Swirl to view pictures from friends organized together by hashtag.
Swirl also allows people to see what all users are sharing around a hashtag. That can give a Instacane like view on a big topic. But the real draw is making it easy to see what friends are doing.
Summer Bedard, the founder behind Swirl, said she came up with the idea because she wanted a way to see related content from her friends, who were already hashtagging pictures. She said that while other services like Flock or Tracks try to auto-create albums for people using time and location data, she said they don’t always work well. Hashtags are a more deliberate action that leads to more accurate albums, she said.
Bedard said there’s no monetization plans, though she could see an opportunity for brands to use Swirl. She’s also looking at adding photos from more services like Foursquare and Facebook.