Twitter is rolling out its new image sharing feature this afternoon in association with popular image hosting site Photobucket. A new camera icon will appear below the Twitter box where you type in your tweet on your official Twitter page allowing you to upload a picture.

Images up to 3MB can be uploaded and will appear as a thumbnail image. You can then tweet it out with text attached. It will appear in your Twitter feed as link starting with pic.twitter.com. The link will have a randomized set of seven characters after that meaning you will have 117 characters left for text. A FAQ of the new service can be found on Twitter’s official support site.

Rumors of this feature surfaced at the end of May, but Twitter has announced a number of other new features since then. Today’s introduction of the service was done without fanfare or announcement other than a popup for certain Twitter users letting them know it was available. Not all accounts will have this functionality today as the service is being rolled out over a number of weeks.

How this will affect start ups that already provide photo sharing services for Twitter account remains to be seen. Yfrog, TwitPic and others have focused some or all of their business model on providing this feature. These outside services plus Flickr will still be supported by Twitter.

Twitter also mentions in the FAQ that they are working on gallery functionality for uploaded pics and will include images uploaded from other image hosting sites, not just their own.

For more information about using images with Twitter, check out our Guide to Displaying Images on Twitter using third-party services.

[Source: Twitter Support, Image credit: Rosaura Ochoa]