So, here it is. After being highly anticipated for quite a while, the instagram folks a few days ago finally launched an Android version of their imaging / photosharing app so far only available for Apples iOS platform. As I am pretty much into using my Android phone for imaging, too, I couldn’t help having a look.
And, to cut things short and starting out conclusion first: Though Instagram (on Android) is nice, I so far failed to completely get what its “sweet spot” is all about. I am not completely sure why, but possibly, in the end, this is also caused by false expectations caused by seeing Instagram images floating around for quite a while yet never having worked with the tool so far, at all. So, just to pin down a few points:
- First and foremost, my major misconception about this was that Instagram mainly is a camera / imaging app backed by a small photosharing site. After my first test-driving the platform, including posting few pictures, I came to the conclusion that it actually is exactly vice-versa: It’s a photosharing network accessible via a smartphone app that provides camera and some basic imaging functionalities as well. Generally, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just that I had something completely different in mind. So, by now, Instagram is not likely to have to compete with Autodesks Pixlr-O-Matic (my #1 imaging app on Android ever since), Magix’ Camera MX, smaller apps like FxCamera or LittlePhoto or paid ones like Vignette. No, it rather is likely to compete with the photo capturing and sharing facilities provided by apps like the official Twitter app, Snapbucket and, most specifically, Flickr. As stated, this is anything but bad, but of course it needs a bit reconsidering what use to make of it.
- Especially comparing to the official Flickr application, I am a bit surprised: Though not offering magnitudes of additional features, the Instagram app is in any possible way bulkier, heavier than the Flickr one: Download of the Instagram app is at least four times the size of the Flickr one. Other than while using the Flickr app, Instagram seems to seriously eat system resources on my phone, and, by now, it also happens to be the first imaging app I ever used that made it into the percentual battery consumption statistics so indeed it seems a wholly different kind of beast on the phone. So far I blame this to being the very first version they do for Android, so maybe this is likely to change in the future.
- With focussing on providing a social network backing the imaging stuff, it didn’t take me long to stumble across pages like this: “iPhone fanbois enraged by Instagram’s Android triumph”, which leaves me with a rather bad feeling about Instagram. So, is it actually Android folks now about to invade some sort of “elite” social network so far exclusively limited to iOS users? Well, I am sure by now there will be a wholly new load of users in and on Instagram, and so will be a whole new load of photos – some will be crap, some will be “good” in whichever way you might want to put it. But having all this tied to a special kind of device seems pointless, and from this point of view, I am glad to actually see there is an Android app. Which still, however, makes Instagram lag behind Flickr or the image sharing stuff in G+ or Twitter a bit (because in all of these platforms I am able to manage my timeline, pictures and all that using an ordinary desktop web browser, too, which is something Instagram either seems to missing or seems not to be all about, after all).
- In some ways, I am a bit reluctant to having even another social network. I mean, after all, what about it? I’m on twitter, I am in G+, I do have accounts in most of the social networks you might imagine (yes, including tumblr), and by now once in a while I see all these networks sort of “partitioning the WWW” into a bunch of more or less disjoint subsystems, knowing that users in one of these networks do have difficulties communicating with users in other networks without too much effort. Sure, I can cross-post from tumblr to twitter, from Instagram to twitter, from Flickr to twitter and all that, but in the end, in most of these situations it’s “monodirectional”, as feedback (if any) ain’t posted back to where the content came. Using Instagram is likely to add even another “insulated” world with rules of its own.
So, ultimately, I think the Instagram folks technically have done a decent job providing the first version for Android, and I am glad they did. As far as I am concerned, I possibly just have to find a meaningful thing to do with Instagram, or eventually consider that staying out of this also might be a valid option (same as I stepped out of other platforms, like Path, for the same reason). We’ll see.