Instagram Review
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Instagram Review

Our Review by Carter Dotson on April 27th, 2013
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: POPULAR FOR A REASON
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Why is Instagram so popular? Because it makes sharing photos extremely easy; it's not just about the filters.

Developer: Burbn, Inc. (now part of Facebook)
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 3.4.2
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

iOS Integration Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Re-use Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

Instagram has earned notoriety for popularizing the kind of faux-retro camera filters that get applied to so many images posted online nowadays. Of course, that's not exactly why the app is so popular, and why it's so compelling to use: it makes sharing one's own photos and viewing others' extremely easy.

The ability to shoot square pictures in portrait mode is probably why the app has taken off so much. It's the paradox of cameraphones that while they're usually meant to be used in portrait orientation, the superior orientation for photography is in landscape. However, it's just not as easy to take a photo in that orientation. So, Instagram makes it possible to take photos easily in portrait without the drawback of too-tall photos. It's very clever, because everything about it is just neat and fits in. That the app also allows for importing photos is also smart, though it leads to things like people posting images with text on the service. Internet: your Instagram photos with text are bad and you should feel bad!

Of course, a significant part of the fun of Instagram is that it is a very congratulatory social network. People will like just about anything that gets shared on there. That the network is built around viewing single photos at a time, with the easy ability to double-tap on the screen to 'like' the photo, adds to the simplicity of congratulating others.

Now, the filters. I think too many of them just look the same and the list of filters could probably be pared down, though the internet would probably screech like a banshee if this was actually done. Also, sometimes the filters are just unnecessary for photos; use filters with discretion! It's easy to get carried away because they're there, but sometimes a photo is compelling enough without modifying the colors!

Sharing to social networks is strongly integrated, with support for Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr added in. Mentioning a person on Instagram who has their account tied to Twitter will mention that person's Twitter name when tweeted, even if the names are different. It's clever. Sadly, finding friends via Twitter has been disabled due to the pathetic battle of wits between Facebook (who own Instagram of course) and Twitter, shutting down friend-finding access on each service. It's a shame, because it was a great way to find people from Twitter (the superior social network) on Instagram, since people don't always use the same name! However, following people when they tweet out photos is definitely a good idea.

While Instagram may remain extremely trendy and yes, excessive photo filtering is not a good thing, at least in using the app, the reasons why it's so popular are apparent because the app is just so handy to use.

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