Once you get the update, the first thing you’ll notice is how much quicker it is to access the camera now: All you have to do is open the Twitter app on your phone, swipe left and you’re in. From there, you’ll have the Capture and Live options. With Capture, you can either do a quick tap to snap a picture or hold it for a couple of seconds to record a video — those can be up to about two minutes right now, but Twitter says that will likely change in the future. If you hit the Live button, you can then stream to your followers using Periscope, Twitter’s video-streaming service.

Hands on with Twitter's revamped camera.

The camera opens to the view from your smartphone’s rear lens by default, but you can tap a button on the top right to switch to selfie mode. Twitter’s VP of Product, Keith Coleman, said that’s by design, as the hope is people capture what’s going on around them. That said, he told Engadget that Twitter will keep a close eye on how people are using the updated camera and build new features based on that. “This is part of a much bigger transformation on Twitter,” he said during a media preview. “A lot of the [other] cameras faces forward, but Twitter is about what’s happening in the world. The camera is purely designed to be fast, and we’re happy to let people use it however they choose to.”

After you take a picture, you’ll see an overlay where you can add your location, text and hashtags. Like a regular tweet, you can type up to 280 characters on it, and you can pick between a few colors to spice it up. Twitter is calling this overlay a chyron, the lower third graphics you’d typically see on a news cast. The precise location, meanwhile, is key to what Twitter is trying to do with its revamped camera — which is to make it easier for people to follow their favorite topics and events. “This is a camera to reach the world,” said Cole, “not just your followers.”

Here at SXSW, for instance, as soon as I tapped the “Add location” button it knew I was in Austin, Texas and suggested I add the festival’s relevant #SXSW hashtag. Twitter’s hope is that enough people do this so that when you want to see what’s happening at events like this, you’ll see a bunch of pictures and videos (aka moments) from the people who are at them. Twitter said these geo features will work starting with US sports games and other big events, and there are plans to keep expanding on that.

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