There are, right now, a host of iPhone Apps available to help you transform an ordinary photo into something extraordinary! Whether that is by utilising simple photo editing and adjustment with an App such as Photoshop Express, or by redesigning the experience of taking snapshot photos and applying filters with Apps such as Hipstamatic and Swankolab.
Instagram desires to help you take photo sharing to a whole new level by integrating it with your social networks, enabling you and your friends to share your lives through a series of snapshot images! It claims to be reinventing the way we share photos and is totally free so lets have a look.
When you first open Instagram it presents you with the current most popular photos from around the world and gives you a delicious first taste of the experience Instagram is trying to achieve. You can browse these favourites as much as you like but to truly get involved you must first create an account.
I can hear many of you groaning already – not another social network to keep track of! Don’t panic, Instagram is not another social monster dedicated to devouring your time and productivity! It’s very easy to sign up and uses Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr to connect you with those around you who want to share the experience. Instagram does allow you to have the bare bones of a profile (picture, gender, and date of birth) but wisely keeps it simple.
Design & Interface
Before we get into the functionality of Instagram it’s definitely worth mentioning its design. Instagram has clearly had a lot of care put into its development and it shows in the interface. The design is stylish but not distracting, while the interface is intuitive and clear. The real beauty of the app comes from the photos uploaded by you and those around you! To this end Instagram keeps its design simple and stays out of the way, allowing photos from friends and strangers all over the world to be the center of the experience.
Taking A New Photo
Once you have signed in you can then begin sharing your life in pictures with those around you. To get started, you simply head to the ‘Share’ tab and take a new photo or select an old one from your camera roll.
In its effort to replicate the distinctive qualities of a Polaroid camera and film, Instagram takes square shots or requires that you crop your camera roll shots to fit.
There’s every chance that if you like Instagram you’ll already have Hipstamatic – all those Hipstaprints you have saved in your camera roll are perfectly suited to the Instagram experience!
Once you have taken or cropped your new photo Instagram takes you to the lab to add filters to your print! Currently there are 11 different filters that the developers have built from scratch – ranging from black and white to high contrast to aged faded effects. It’s a great touch that you can instantly preview the effect each one will have. If you find choosing between different lenses and films on Hipstamatic or having to combine chemicals in Swankolab a chore then Instagram’s filter selection process will be a breath of fresh air!
Instagram’s 11 built-in filters come with such intriguing, if nondescript, names as:
- X-Pro II
- Lord Kelvin
Sharing Your Photo
Once you have selected your desired filter you can then name and locate your photo. Instagram encourages descriptive naming – giving a naming example that’s more akin to a Facebook status. It also then lets you give your print a location by allowing you to select from nearby locations or create new ones. It is slightly confusing however, given the iPhone’s now ubiquitous use of geotagging, that Instagram doesn’t currently include the option just to tag your photo with your current location.
Once you’ve named and added a location to your photo, it’s time to share it with the world (or perhaps just some of your mates). Instagram will automatically share your photos with anyone who is ‘following’ you but can also be configured to post your uploads to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and Tumblr. You can decide how contained your Instagram experience will be, you can just follow your Instagram friends within the App or allow Instagram access to your other social networks and spread the photo sharing fun!
Instagram does include the helpful ability to search for friends who are using it by connecting with Facebook and Twitter or just using your contact list.
Your feed is what distinguishes Instagram from other photo editing Apps and gives it purpose – sharing your photos with the world is a little pointless if there is no interaction! Your feed is where you can see all of the photos that have been posted by you and the people you are following and where Instagram begins to make sense. You can experience a new way of interacting with your friends through a stream of images and begin sharing your life in pictures!
Instagram gives you the option to “like” or comment on any photos in your feed or in the “Popular” section and lets you request to follow anyone you’d like to. You can build up a group of people whose pictures inspire you – from your friends, to strangers who live thousands of miles away!
If you were hosting a party for all the iOS photography Apps it would be starting to look pretty crowded by now, fortunately for us Instagram is a worthy addition! It was released fairly recently and has already developed quite a serious following. With it being a new app there are inevitably some minor bugs and glitches but the developer has already managed to release version 1.0.2. In addition to this, it’s worth reminding you again that Instagram is free!
Instagram is succeeding in its attempt to create something new and different – its eagerness to have you sharing your life through pictures is infectious! Instagram’s ability to turn simple snapshots into a fascinating experiment in social interaction is amazing and well worth a try, especially considering you don’t have to pay for the privilege.
Instagram allows you to apply unique and fun effects to photos taken with your iPhone or iPod Touch and then share those photos with friends on a number of social networks. Despite a few glitches, Instagram is an awesome value for a free app and we highly recommend that you give it a shot!9