Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
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Long ago, as iOS reckons time, before the 1 billion dollar acquisition of Instagram by Facebook, and before photo filters were ubiquitous, there was Hipstamatic, a digital recreation of an analog camera, complete with changeable lenses and film types. But alas, time passed by and Hipstamatic, while still useful and engaging, lost mindshare to Instagram and the onslaught of photo processing apps. Many fondly remembered it, but used it less and less.
Hipstamatic's developer hopes to change this with the introduction of Oggl, their new social network/camera app hybrid that attempts to link the Hipstamatic name and legacy to a powerful but easy to use photo hub.
First looks can be deceiving, and indeed that's the case with Oggl. What at first appears to be nothing more than another Instagram clone reveals itself to be much, much more upon deeper inspection. Many of the basic features of other social camera apps are present in Oggl from the start: the square-framed pictures, the ability to follow other users and the option to see trending photos from around the world. The difference, however, lies in how photos are processed and then how they are shared.
Those used to the original Hipstamatic's serendipitous pre-photo combos of lenses and films may be disappointed to learn that Oggl ditches that paradigm for an entirely post-processed method. AFTER taking a photo, users can adjust various visual factors by changing the film stock and the lens type. Yes, that makes the Oggl experience much more akin to using filters, but the film/lens analogy still works. What's not appealing at the moment is the paucity of available films and lenses, though Hipstamatic promises to remedy this issue in the near future. I was also disappointed to discover that the paks I have purchased through the Hipstamatic app are not accessible through Oggl...yet. Again, the devs say this will be added in a future update.
Once a photo is taken it goes into a 'holding area' before final processing and publishing to the Oggl stream. Sharing options are abundant, and the interface to share to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, tumblr, Flickr and Instagram could not be simpler or better designed.
Taken as a whole, the interface used by Oggl easily trumps similar apps and services. The learning curve may be a tad steeper, and some options (such as finding other friends using the service) are needlessly buried when they should be front-and-center, but the look and feel of the app is one of the best I've seen in a while. In fact, it's now my go-to app for taking and sharing photos across the social spectrum. Since I have a six-month-old, I take a LOT of pictures, so having one app that can appease my social and creative needs is ideal.
Oggl has room to grow, but it is far better than I expected it to be. Once links can be made to users' pre-existing Hipstamatic camera paks, this may be the social photo app to beat.