Favd is Instagram For App.net

I really dig Instagram — or I used to. But since the service was purchased by Facebook, I feel like it’s lost its focus. Instagram’s new video features are nice, but they don’t feel as smartly-designed as Vine. And speaking of design, I feel like Instagram’s has suffered recently — particularly on iOS 7, where the app looks like something an arts college dropout would whip up if given the opportunity. And finally, I can’t be alone in saying that I think the filter selection is getting worse with time.

That’s why I’m really excited about Favd. Favd is a photo-sharing app made for iOS 7 that’s designed on the App.net backbone. It offers total ownership of your photos, great filters, and the ability to share them on Twitter and Facebook. Better yet, its design harkens back to the days of early Instagram and uses App.net for its social structure. Read on to find out why I think Favd is a must-have app.

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Joyful Design

Favd is an app that just looks good. The blue header and status bar and colourful without being childish, and the slightly-oversized Camera button is great. Photos are never stretched beyond their natural proportions just to fill a screen, and avatars are square, which means their sharp corners don’t contrast against the corners of the images (compare this to Instagram’s bizarre iOS 7 update).

Browsing the stream is a pleasure.

Browsing the stream is a pleasure.

Images are separated by an off-grey colour, which is high-contrast enough to make the app feel cohesive. The app is broken into four categories: Your stream, Explore, Activity, and Profile. (Settings can be found in the Profile pane as well.) Basically, yes, this is just like Instagram. The difference is that it looks more playful, and it feels more fun.

The Explore part of the app is identical to Instagram's.

The Explore part of the app is identical to Instagram’s.

When it comes down to explaining the categories, they work very similarly to their Instagram counterparts. What’s interesting, though, is that this is built on the App.net system. So a reply from an App.net constitutes as a comment on Favd, and comments on Favd will appear as Twitter-like replies if somebody is using, say, Felix. Any photo in your stream is automatically visible in Favd, but all the other cruft is removed. The only problem with this system is that, if somebody leaves a comment on a photo of mine and I reply back, Favd doesn’t always catch it. So it appears like some comment threads are missing pieces. It’s a flaw in an otherwise great system that mimics Instagram’s social network by sitting on the backbone of an already-existing one.

Snapping a Picture

There’s a few important things you’ll probably want to know about taking pictures with Favd. The first is that, while you can import a photo from your Camera Roll into the app, you don’t save a photo directly to the Camera Roll every time you take a picture in the app. So if you need to take a picture six times before the composition is right, you don’t need to worry about six photos you don’t like popping up in your Camera Roll. (I wish every camera app with filters would learn from this.)

The second thing you’ll want to know is that the images you take with Favd are always square. Unlike Analog Camera, there’s no support for full-size photos. That’s never bothered me too much, but I can understand why some people dislike it.

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When you’re done importing a picture, you can apply filters. (You can also use filters live as you take pictures.) I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about each of these in detail, so I’ve included one picture from my iPhone without a filter (above) and put the image through each filter (below) so you can take a look at them.

From left to right and top to bottom: Austin, Santa Cruz, Boston, Hanalei, Metropolis, Williamsburg, Venice, La Jolla, and Santa Fe.

From left to right and top to bottom: Austin, Santa Cruz, Boston, Hanalei, Metropolis, Williamsburg, Venice, La Jolla, and Santa Fe.

Austin is the filter I suspect most will be using. It comes free with the app and cools down images. It also desaturates them, resulting in a look like that looks almost like a vintage Polaroid. Santa Cruz is the opposite of that extreme: Dipped in magenta, this filter simply doesn’t appeal to me. I wish it did. Boston is a very classy black and white that I really like, but I can see why some iPhone-ographers might be more satisfied with any of the black and white options present in the stock Camera app. The stock app offers a little bit more variety. Boston is a nice middle ground that I really do think is just classy.

Hanalei and Metropolis are both too dark for my liking. While Hanalei simply preserves some colour, Metropolis strips the entire image of it. I feel like Metropolis is trying to ape the old-school Gotham filter and failing at it. I much prefer both Boston and the stock Camera app’s options, all of which offer a much nicer contrast.

Finally, Williamsburg is a nice colour that reminds me of stock apps. I don’t think it’s anything tremendously special — think of it as a darker Austin filter. Venice is by far my favourite in the app, giving photos just enough of a golden glow to make me really feel nostalgic. If you were going to buy just one filter, that’s the one. La Jolla and Santa Fe are both playing off similar vibes: Golden hues dipped in vintage tones. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s really the only way I can describe them. I think they’re very nice as well.

There’s an odd glitch right now affecting me with Santa Fe. I’ve purchased the bundle, but the purchase for Santa Fe hasn’t registered and I continually have to punch in my password to access the filter. Once I punch in the password, the app recognizes I’ve already purchased the filter and immediately makes it available, but I have to do this every time, which is frustrating.

Filters and vignettes? No problem!

Filters and vignettes? No problem!

Each filter comes with its own unique vignette and border option, not unlike Instagram again. Some of the borders are subtle, while some are not, but they’re always optional. For the record, I like them, but I wish they were even more subtle in tone than they are. For whatever reason, the filter and vignette are applied every time you select a filter, and you have to manually deselect them. I think it should be the other way around.

An App.net subscription is a requirement.

An App.net subscription is a requirement.

When you’re done, you can share the images to App.net, Facebook, or Twitter. You can’t share the images to Instagram. An ADN account is required to share the pictures to other social networks, but the image is therefore always available in your App.net storage.

Final Thoughts

I love Favd. I don’t think every filter is amazing, and maybe the $3.99 purchase price for all of them is something most people are going to balk at. But the app is clearly lovingly made, inspired by an old-school Instagram that I wish was still around. For me, Favd is dangerously close to replacing Instagram on my home screen. I just wish more of the friends I follower were using the App.net service.


Summary

Favd is a smartly-designed app that's a joy to use. A must-have for anybody on App.net.

  • Favd 1.0.2  | 
  • Free; with $3.99 in-app purchase for all filters and $0.99 price for each individual  | 
  • YourHead Software
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