Berlin-based EyeEm is keen to make sure you know that it’s not another Instagram clone, and the launch today of its API should help get that message across.

While EyeEm lets you take photos, add filters and share them to your social networks (sound familiar?), the key difference here is context. When you publish a photo, you’re encouraged to tag it with not only a location but with what you’re doing, too. This allows EyeEm to be able to compile themed collections of photos based around activities, events and locations automatically. As a result, for example, you can easily see all the photos of people playing the same sport, at a particular event, or all the photos taken in the same city, right within the app.

The new API allows developers to harness these feeds of photos for their own apps and services. EyeEm launched last summer and released a revamped app, which emphasised its key difference from the competition, in December 2011. While CEO Florian Meissner won’t give out any figures on user numbers, he says that the December relaunch boosted engagement around the app, and exploring at the photos shared on EyeEm, it seems that it’s certainly managed to break out of the ‘Berlin bubble’ to some extent.

The API is read-only at the moment, although the ability to post photos to EyeEm from third party apps is in the pipeline – something that Instagram seems opposed to. The API currently offers access to user photos, albums, favourites, likes and comments, as well as topics and photo tags by city, country, venue and by event.

The API’s launch precedes the upcoming Photo Hack Day in Berlin. This will see developers creating apps and services with popular photo-related APIs and beyond. As an example of what might come out of the event, Meissner suggests an app that identifies songs using Shazam and then creates a themed photo gallery for it from EyeEm photos.

Photo Hack Day is hosted by EyeEm in partnership with iStockPhoto, and if you’re in Berlin on 25 and 26 February and want to take part, you can find out more here.