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06 Apr 12 Instagram (for Android)

Haters love to hate, and giant egos are at stake whenever a cult iPhone app takes months, or in Instagram’s case, years, to be ported to Android. Cross-platform comparisons are made. Allegiances have formed around similar apps. Android users expect something to brag about to their iPhone frenemies.

Nearly two years after the iPhone version debuted, Instagram for Android has finally arrived in Google Play.

Instagram is a social networking tool centered on photos, and works similarly to Twitter (bonus trivia: Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom came from Twitter). The app lets you put folksy effects on dull photos with a single tap, and quickly share them on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Feature-wise, you’ll find more filters and editing tools in Android 4.0′s stock camera, and Android photo app favorites like Vignette and Lightbox offer far more filtering options. However, Instagram boasts the most robust social community running 15 million strong.

After a typical signup process, you can scroll through photo streams of other members and opt to follow them. There are plenty of celebrities to follow, but unlike in Twitter, Instagram offers no way to verify users’ accounts. So you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s really Taylor Swift or the Biebs whose streams you are following. Instagram doesn’t have to be a wild-west sharing free-for-all; you can also set your photo stream to private, so that only users you approve can see it. 

Your home screen is populated with the most recently posted photo of all the members you follow, plus a preview of comments under each post. The stream is slick and conducive to “heart-ing” and commenting. Another button lets you flag a photo for nudity, copyright, or violating the Terms of Use.

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Sign Up

Follow Other Users

Discover Photos

Twitter-Like Interface

Snap, Edit
Take photos within the app, or select photos from your device to edit. Instagram offers 17 filters in total, plus the option to turn on or off a frame. Apart from sepia and black and white, the rest of the filters struck me as different shades of, well, folksy and low-res. The number of filters pales in comparison to Vignette’s 62 filters and 21 frames. Nor are Instagram’s filters as interesting as Lightbox’s 16, which include 8-bit, Fisheye, and Redscale. Even Instagram on iOS has a couple more filters.

In his review of the iPhone version of Instagram, my colleague Michael Muchmore said he found the effects gimmicky. True, I’d never normally think to “lomo” up a picture I took on a phone, but once I started experimenting with different filters, the hipster in me was hooked. I mean, who wouldn’t want to give a photo of a paper cup the “1977″ filter, which makes it more washed out and textured?

Sharing on Instagram borrows a lot from Twitter’s setup and interface. Once you finish adding your effects, you can geotag your photo and tick boxes for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Tumblr. By default, the photo is also uploaded to your Instagram photo feed, which is visible to anyone who follows you (unless you’ve made it private, of course).

It would be nicer if you could save the photo to your device as you can with, well, every other photo-effects app.

You can easily waste hours surfing quirky and funny photos, thanks to a tab at the bottom of your feed called Popular. When you click this, the app opens a grid of the most “hearted” photos at that moment. It’s a great time suck, especially if you like cute cats and emo-filtered landscapes. However Instagram could really use a button that lets you re-share other users’ photos you like, kind of like Twitter’s retweet function or the reblog feature on Tumblr. I suppose that would bring up too many copyright and ownership questions, however.  

I tested Instragram on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0.2 and, as expected for a pilot version, experienced a few crashes. Within two days, it’s already been updated to version 1.0.2 with bug fixes. Worse, I’ve also read that the app is incompatible with the camera drivers in many HTC devices, like the One X and Sensation 4G.

Instagram for Android’s strength relies on its robust photo community, rather than photo editing utility. It’s a simple, fun way to discover and instantly share photos with friends and strangers, but in terms of editing it’s even less useful than the stock Android camera. Stilll, after playing with Instagram for a while, I could start to feel the pull of addiction. It’s just so quick and easy to create and share a folksy snapshot of my life. Instagram isn’t a perfect app, but its popularity is easy to understand.

For more Android Software, see:

•   Instagram (for Android)
•   Opera Mini 7 (for Android)
•   Norton One
•   iOnRoad Augmented Driving (for Android)
•   File Manager
•  more

Article source:,2817,2402663,00.asp

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