How Twitter Filters Were Born

Remember the old days (last week) when it took multiple steps to tweet your filtered, cropped and or dramatically faded photos?

Well, did you know that Twitter came out with photo filters just to save you this trouble? ‘Tis true.

That revelation and details around how the filters came to be were announced today.

Gone are the days when tweeting a photo was complicated. As Twitter describes it, in the days before filters you were faced with a three step (at least) process:

1. Take the photo (with an app)
2. Filter the photo (probably another app)
3. Finally, tweet it!

How very Twittercentric of them, but yes – that’s a possible scenario if the whole reason you took pics was to tweet it. Seems most folks like to store their photos on photo sharing apps and share on other platforms from there, but as all is not well in Instagramland lately, we suppose there’s no point getting into that now.

So how did these photo filters come to be? First, Twitter identified the need:

Constantly needing to switch apps takes time, and results in frustration and wasted photo opportunities. So we challenged ourselves to make the experience as fast and simple as possible. We wanted everyone to be able to easily tweet photos that are beautiful, timeless, and meaningful.

And then they did a TON of research, testing, “user stories, and sketches. We designed and tested multiple iterations of the photo-taking experience, and relied heavily on user research to make decisions about everything from filters nomenclature and iconography to the overall flow.”
They analyzed “a wide range of photos including portraits, scenery, indoor, outdoor and low-light shots.”
We also calibrated details ranging from color shifts, saturation, and contrast, to the shape and blend of the vignettes before handing the specifications over to Aviary, a company specializing in photo editing. They applied their expertise to build the algorithms that matched our filter specs.
The resulting filter options are pretty cool – don’t you agree?


They also focused on making it FAST, wanting it to feel “instant and seamless to use — while working within constraints of memory usage and processing speed available on the wide range of devices our apps support.” Meaning: No lag time when scrolling between photos.

Twitter engineers promise that “over time, we want our filters to evolve so that sharing and connecting become even more delightful.” What a long birth announcement. It will be interesting to see how Twitter’s photo capabilities grow, don’t you think?

(Baby image from Shutterstock)

@MaryCLong Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.