Instagram, review of the uber hyped Social Photo Sharing & Cool Filter Effects app for Android
Apr 6, 2012 10:52 AM –
Instagram is a neat little photo-sharing app for… wait, who am I kidding? You know what it is. You know what it does. You’re probably one of the 1 million or more people that downloaded it in the first 24 hours of its release. You’ve probably signed up and have gotten stuck in already. I think the only questions left is, are you the Android user that’s literally blown away by the new app? Or, are you a user who is altogether less-impressed? Well, here’s our review of this massively popular app…
Tested on: HTC One X, HTC Desire HD
Pros & Cons:
- Nice set of filters to make your pictures drastic!
- Very easy to use photo sharing and discovery social service!
- Very fast and responsive!
- Millions of users!
- Lacks effects.
- Less filters than several other Android apps.
- Doesn’t work on certain devices, doesn’t properly support others.
- Where camera doesn’t work it won’t let you upload from your SD card.
- Small choice of borders, not many effects, no tilt shift or editing tools.
- Lacks iOS features, such as real-time filters atop of camera.
Since downloading this hugely popular and much-hyped app on the day of its release, I’ve gone through different phases of thought regarding Instagram. I thought then it might be a good idea to run through these as I can refer to the features as they occurred to me.
At first I was like…
OK, so my first thought was Instagram on Android!? Wow, at last! I knew it was on its way and thought us Android users were not going to have to wait long until it’s arrival, but there it was- officially launched! I have to admit I was quite excited as the 13MB downloaded itself onto my device. Logging into the service was really slick and very fast. The user interface I thought was well… quite basic, but still pretty neat. Instagram is responsive, quick and looks pretty good. One of the initial things I noticed was that you can either take a picture yourself or upload one from your gallery. This is great as it’s often very cool to apply new filters to previously taken photos. Big tick then.
But then I was like…
Then it was a case of checking out the different filters. I was dismayed to see a paltry 18 filters initially, I thought the mighty Instagram would be awash with a rich smorgasbord of filters, effects and editing options. But this isn’t really the case. The top banner allows you to add or remove frames, apply the ‘Lux’ feature and rotate. The bottom sliding section presents the filters. My overwhelming feeling at that point was “Is that it?” For the life of me I couldn’t fathom why iOS users had been raving so much! (Have you read about the uproar those same users have with the addition of Android!) This left me hugely disappointed and immediately thinking that Android already has far superior photo sharing apps already, such as Streamzoo and Lightbox Photos.
That can’t be it can it?
This thought nagged me for a while, I felt I must be missing something significant. Then, however, Instagram tweeted a link to a host of useful tips. This blog post, which can be found here, shed much more light on the app and some of it’ features. Most notably for me was the Lux feature. This toggle allows underexposed pictures to have better contrast. Looked at generously, this might suggest the number of filters can be doubled to 36… which isn’t too shabby at all. While I thought this neat, and certainly original, some pictures really didn’t respond well and looked worse. However, Lux is still pretty good and worth experimenting with.
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It get’s better though…
Another extremely cool thing with Instagram is that there are already loads of people you know using it. I’ve really enjoyed Lightbox Photos and Streamzoo as photo sharing platforms but, while it’s easy to get followers, I didn’t actually know anyone. That’s completely different with Instagram and several of my friends popped up straight away via Facebook and Twitter searches. This, especially if you’re a very social animal, is a massive tick and I think something that really will really make Instagram popular on the Android platform.
From gathering impressions from other Android users, however, something seemed quite odd. No experience seemed the same. Some cameras were supported, others not. My new HTC One X wasn’t supported, my HTC Desire HD was partially capable (although without some advanced camera functionality), others took ages to load up, more still reported crashing and freezing. What was going on?? Instagram suddenly updated a couple of times and a few issues for people were ironed out, but still not support for my One X. Furthermore, if it doesn’t support your camera, it also won’t let you upload from you SD card! What’s with that? I can’t think of any other photo apps that are so fragmented like Instagram is.
I then also learned that in the iOS version, filters can be applied in real time, much like in apps like Paper Camera, but not so on Android. So much for the Android app being better than the iOS one! It also lacks tilt-shift, which, while not a killer feature is a shame- especially for an app supposedly as ‘big’ as Instagram.
I guess I’m resigned to wait for the Instagram developers to pull their finger out and update the app to support my new device. An update could perhaps also sort out the stability issues the app suffers from. Even if this was done, I’m still left scratching my head wondering what all the hype was about. Instagram is fast, responsive, has a great community feel to it and a few good filters but that’s about it.
It’s not really anything we haven’t already got on Android. Just check out the likes of Streamzoo, with it’s wealth of editing, frames, filters, community, competitions and smart UI. Or perhaps Lightbox Photos, which features quite simply the slickest and most beautiful user interface of them all; it’s like the UI is as good as your pictures. Both of these apps also come with a cool web-side, so you can upload from your device or via the web… not so with Instagram. The fact is, the more I play with Instagram, the less I find it does… and it would seem far better Android apps go criminally neglected.
…And then Apple fans spoke…
I think it should be mentioned that, despite the popularity of Instagram already on Android, most of the discerning users I’ve been speaking with on Google+ haven’t been particularly impressed either. Which amused me all the more when I read about the furore created by snobbish iPhone users upset that the app was now available on Android. Talk about raging!
Personally, I can’t understand why the hype was what it was. Instagram is a nice little app, but not that good! Are iPhone users really that easily impressed? Instagram is good for its community aspects and, compared to some other apps, is very fast. But this aside, it’s very average indeed. Perhaps with a few more updates it might be a worthy challenge to Lightbox Photos and Streamzoo but for now, these two remain the joint champions on Android as far as I’m concerned.
Instagram – Sample picture
Instagram – Sample picture 2
Instagram – Sample picture 3
Instagram – Apply filter
Instagram – Lux effect, top centre
Instagram – Androidtapp stream
Instagram – Stream
Instagram – Popular posts
Instagram – Pictures in grid
Instagram – Instagram posts
Instagram – Camera screen, HTC Desire HD
Instagram – News for my posts
Instagram – Select source
Instagram – Tag, share
Instagram – Settings
With Instagram it’s easy to take a snap, add a filter and upload it. It’s very quick and great for sharing casual pictures. The filters certainly flatter the amateur mobile photographer and it’s easy to use. I have generally avoided comparing Instagram to the far more powerful editing apps like Pixlr-o-matic and FX Photo Editor. While these apps leave Instagram for dead as far as editing tools are concerned, Instagram has the social aspect to it where photos are posted on a shared platform.
You can share elsewhere on Instagram, posting to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. However, we’re used to having a host of other places on Android; cloud storage, sending as MMS messages, Google+ etc. You can’t do this within Instagram unfortunately, you’ll have to share from your gallery. I know iOS fans are blown away by the way you can share things to Twitter from many places within their apps now, but Android users have had this for years now, the lack of options in Instagram feels very restrictive.
Ease of Use:
Instagram is incredibly easy to use, which is real plus for some users. Navigation is relatively straightforward and it’s simple to post and share pictures you have taken.
Instagram is, essentially, a simple social network for pictures. If you’re a big fan of sharing pictures, this might be something you use heavily. Despite crashing a few times on both devices I tested on, it’s mostly stable so OK for everyday usage. I think because the app is very responsive and quick, this is something you can use quite casually.
The interface reminded me a little of Streamzoo’s, although Instagram is far more basic and has far less features. It’s not even in the same league as the beautiful Lightbox Photos. It is bold, bright and very quick, however, so that’s a plus for many users.
Tags: Android App
, Android Apps
, AndroidTapp.com App Review
, Instagram Lux
, Lightbox Photos
, mobile photo manipulation
, Photo Sharing
, Share Photos
Categorised in: Photography, Social
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