Essentially an app that allows you to take photos with your phone’s camera and then apply “retro” filters to those shots, the concept certainly isn’t anything new. A number of other apps like the beautiful “Hipstamatic” were being installed and used before Instagram became popular.
So how come this particular app, produced by a team of only six designers and developers, has suddenly amassed a user group of almost 10 million? Let’s take a quick look…
What is Instagram?
As mentioned above, the Instagram app allows you to take photos using any iPhone or iPod Touch compatible device and apply a selection of funky-named filters (Hudson, Lomo-fi, Sutro, Inkwell, 1977 etc) that allow you to give your photos a particular look that throws back to the days of Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid cameras.
The result isn’t a perfect, crystal-clear and colour-perfect shot. Far from it in fact, but therein lies one of the hooks. For whatever reason, Instagram, to put it bluntly, allows users to make even the most ordinary, badly composed, horribly lit, lifeless photos look cool. While this gives photography purists the absolute irrits, it does give the average iPhone user a fighting chance when it comes to snapping shots worthy of sharing with their friends and family.
What is responsible for the sudden Instagram craze?
Without question, Instagram’s move to build a community around their app by building in easy-to-use tools for sharing the photos taken with a number of popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr has greatly enhanced their popularity. With just a few easy taps, someone can share a cool shot of whatever it is they are doing or experiencing with their network of friends and family.
For some it eliminates the need to carry around a compact camera altogether, and the results, just like the good ol’ days of the polaroid camera, are instant. You just shoot, filter, caption, geo-tag and share! It’s as easy as that.
5 great online Instagram related services
So without further to do, here’s a list of FIVE great online Instagram related services that will allow you to extend your interaction with the application that’s taking the iPhone community by storm:
With all of the great things Instagram has going for it, one of the gaping holes in the service is the provision of web-based user profiles. The app is quite rightly built as a mobile experience, but there are times when you might want to check out a user’s details and archive of shots while you’re sitting at a laptop or desktop computer.
This is where followgram.me comes in. By using your already registered Instagram login to gain access, you can have your very own web-based Instagram profile set up within minutes. Perfect!
This one is a little gimmicky, but I love the concept and already have friends who swear by it. Stickygram is a simple service that allows you to order your favourite Instagram shots as a set of fridge magnets.
Delivered world-wide, the magnets are a perfect gift idea for friends and loved ones allowing them to add a stylish part of you to their lives.
At the time of writing this, you can get your hands on a set of 9 magnets for USD$14.99. Add to that FREE shipping to anywhere in the world and it’s a service worth checking out for sure!
Like most things in the “Social Media” sphere these days, it’s nice to be able to have at least a bit of an idea as to what content you are “putting out there” is the most viewed, the most popular and/or the most loved.
Statigram allows you to view, or have a number of “snapshots” of your usage of Instagram emailed to you on a regular basis, and in doing so gives you some kind of ongoing insight into what your most popular photos are.
There’s been a number of times in the past that I’ve thought to myself, gee it would be nice to send a photo of what I’m looking at right now to my Grandparents. I mean, they’re not “online” at all, so sending a simple email with a photo attached isn’t an option, and they live far enough away that I’m not going to be guaranteed of seeing them every other week, so if there was an effortless way of sending them pics with a message attached, I’d be all over it.
What I have just discussed in the latter part of that paragraph above is EXACTLY what the awesome “Postagram” does for you. Install the app, take an Instagram photo, add a message, choose a recipient and mailing address and a cool postcard of your photo (which can be popped out of the card) is sent off by snail mail.
It appears that sadly, Postagram is only available in the USA right now, but I’m hopeful that the service, or some kind of copycat service will be available in Australia and Canada REAL soon!
Rounding off the list of 5 great ways to extend your Instagram experience is “Extragram” – a beautifully designed “explorer” application that allows you to browse throughout the Instagram user base viewing the most popular photos from users you don’t know, all the shots your friends have taken as well as a full archive of all your own shots.
While Extragram does the same or a similar job to the other services, like Followgram, I have listed above, it does it in the best way I have found from a user experience point of view. Easy to navigate and thoughtfully and beautifully designed, it’s worth checking out if you’re at a desktop or laptop computer.
Once again, you can use your existing Instagram login to gain access, so there’s no extra registrations required – sweet!
UPDATE: But wait, there’s more!
With Xmas not that far away, the folk at “Printstagram” offer 5 great printing/gift options that draw on your Instagram creative archive! Posters, miniprints and more can be ordered and delivered worldwide!
I’m just thinking out aloud here, but how cool would one of those posters look on the back of the dunny door?? Get rid of that old calendar from the chemist that features an uninspiring stock photo of an old rusty tractor in a field, and adorn the “throne room” with something eye-catching and creative!
Also, check out the “Minibook” and cute “Tinybook” options for truly unique and cheap gift ideas.
Still pining for the golden era of the polaroid print? Sydney-based husband and wife team “Origrami” offer a unique, vintage, product featuring 36 x double-sided Instagram pics beautifully boxed and shipped anywhere in the world for free, for just AUD$19.90.
Each 4″ x 5″ 250gsm satin paper print features your fantastic prints on the front, and either a photo map (if recorded), or one of 12 unique background designs on the back. Sa-weet!