Widely regarded as the default smartphone snap-sharing app, Instagram has many millions of fans across several social networks. But does it work as well on Android as iOS?
The mighty Facebook recently bought this app for a headline-making US$1bn, so it may be that Instagram’s days as a standalone app are numbered. Fortunately for its reported 15 million users, however, these days are numbered in months while Facebook deals with the legal nonsense that it has to endure whenever it does anything these days. And, though Facebook was quick to launch Camera, an Instagram-esque app on iOS, Android fans have only the original to consider. Well, unless you count the hundreds of other photo-fiddling apps on Android, including Photo Studio, Vignette, Paper Camera… and countless more.
Phew. So that’s set the scene – let’s take a look at what all the fuss is about. Instagram is not a complicated app. You take a picture, or choose one from your library, add some filters and effects and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Foursquare. Your friends can follow you to receive notifications of when you upload a new masterpiece, and vice versa. There’s also a ‘Popular’ feed within the app that lets you see photos from some of Instagram's super-producers – people with thousands of pictures and tens of thousands of followers. Where do they get the time?
Drawbacks? There are some. There are many filters you can add to your photo, but they range from retro to vintage to… well, somewhere between retro and vintage. More interesting are the tilt-shift effects you can apply and ‘Lux’ a kind of levels booster that sometimes improves a dull picture. But, chances are, if you become indoctrinated into the Instagram community, you’re quite likely to find your favourite filter and stick with it. Also, unless you use the app’s built-in camera – an option that is ‘off’ by default presumably because it may cause some phones to crash – Instagram forces a standard square crop on your pictures. Although you’re given a chance to resize the square and move it around before the crop, thought is needed when composing… especially if your phone’s camera defaults to fancy-pants 16:9 wide ratio images.
These minor gripes aside – and a vague feeling that by using this massively popular app you are more smartphone sheep than pioneering wolf – Instagram is well-designed and easy to use. There are other apps that offer more creativity for your photography, but for quick filter-and-fling fun, this is a strong contender. That is, for as long as Facebook lets it exist independently – presumably it will be swallowed up at some point by the big blue mothership and become something different. (Slower, less friendly and with less social network sharing options, we would presume!)
Neat and easy to use, it’s no wonder that Instagram has a bazillion happy snappers the world over.