Review: Instagram for Android

The Android platform is finally graced with Instagram, but how does it fair?

This week, the hugely awaited release of the app on the Android section of smartphones came to be and as promised, it is near identical to the iPhone version, so a fantastic app that should automatically make it.

The photography app that allows users to add simple filters and share photos to social networks has long been requested but was finally announced at SXSW just over two weeks ago, with no release date. At the beginning of last week however, a sign up page appeared on the Instagram site, prompting would be Android snappers to add their email to be ‘notified first’ when the app became available.

                    

The simple up and down of what Instagram does is this: you take a photo (or choose one you have already snapped previously), crop it into a square if it isn’t already, and then run it through the filters. You pick one from a vast array of filters available and add lighting effects, toggle a border, and (unfortunately, only on the iPhone at the time of writing) a tilt shift effect that allows you to select an area of the photo to stay in focus.

Next up is sharing. The four platforms Instagram allows you to share photos to are Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. For the majority of people that’s the main bulk of social networking applications that anyone would like to share photos created to. Perhaps Flickr could be added to that list given it’s dedicated and widespread photo sharing capabilities.

What works is how simple it all is. You can upload a filtered photograph to Instagram within seconds, by pointing, shooting, scrolling, tapping and then captioning. That’s all.

          

The pictures above and the ones further through the post are images I took while testing out the application on a trip to the Needles on the Isle of Wight. A perfect day, weather and atmosphere wise to test out the functionality of my new toy.

Another killer feature is that Foursquare functionality. Many people want to show people what they are doing when they check in somewhere, so the ability to do that from within your fancy new picture is something that has been long requested of any app, let alone Instagram.

          

The social aspect of the app isn’t trying to topple Twitter and Facebook, as it allows you to import your friends from both networking sites, but the News Feed that allows you to see what people have been taking pictures of is also fantastic. You can like and comment on pictures, and there are in-app notifications for when someone does the same to your uploads.

The iPhone version has been available for a year and a half, since the app first launched in October 2010. Since then it has accumulated over 27 million users and is growing. Naturally, the Android release will only increase those figures, with the news that an additional one million users were added to the community within the first twelve hours of the app release.

          

However, that lack of tilt shift (again, at the time of writing) does seem to be so that the Apple community can still have a one up over the Android side. It doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult feature to implement, but here’s hoping they can add it in an update in the coming weeks, alongside the three patches already released.

Regardless, the app has enough meat on it to replace my stock camera app for a considerable amount of time, especially if the tilt-shift feature is enabled. I can happily spend time browsing through the selection filters, and toggling borders (as each filter has a different one) but for most people the simplicity and fast aspect to it all is what keeps them hooked.

The link for the download from the Play Store is available here, and once you’ve also had a play with it, let me know what you think in the comments, or tweet at me.

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