Tucked away in an update to Instagram described as “Bug fixes and performance improvements” is a share extension that allows you to share photos to Instagram from Apple’s Photos app or any other photo app that supports share extensions. A share extension is a long time coming to Instagram, which previously required you to import photos into Instagram from your Photo Library or take a snapshot or video using Instagram.
Unfortunately, the Instagram share extension’s functionality is limited. All you can do is add a title to the photo you post to Instagram. There is no way to crop your shot, apply filters, tag people, select a location, or select social networks on which to share your photo, all of which are available in the main app. Even so, the addition of a share extension is a welcome addition to Instragram, which received a significant design refresh and new icon last month.
Armin Vit has a smart take on the Instagram icon redesign (via John Gruber):
Unlike Uber, that replaced it’s “U” for a metaphysical atom, the change here is only aesthetic. It’s still a camera. Yes, at first it will be hard to recognize it, but when you have 200 million people tapping on it everyday, multiple times a day, that’s the kind of brand engagement that Coca-Cola or Nike would kill for. When it comes to “brand impressions” and “brand touchpoints”, Instagram (and Facebook and Twitter and, yes, even Uber) have no shortage of opportunities so it will only be a matter of time — three months, probably — before this is known, recognized, and considered as the Instagram app icon. Simply by repetition and usage. Hell, I was starting to get used to the Uber icon until they pulled out of Austin this Monday.
If people ever stop checking Instagram obsessively, I don't think it'll be because of an icon change.
Long after Apple abandoned skeuomorphism with the introduction of iOS 7, Instagram held onto the past with its Kodak Instamatic-inspired icon. It had been so long since Instagram’s icon was updated that you could count on a flurry of snarky jokes on Twitter every time the app was updated without an icon redesign.
Today, nearly three years since iOS 7 was introduced at WWDC in 2013, Instagram has unveiled a redesigned icon, not only for its flagship app, but also for Layout, Boomerang, and Hyperlapse.
Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer, writing on Medium:
Many followers have inquired about whether a certain photograph is taken with an iPhone or DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera). In choosing the photographs for my year on Instagram, I decided to select only iPhone photographs that were captured in the square format on an iPhone. For many purists, the square format was the original inspiration for Instagram. And I certainly admire those that continue to post only square photos taken with a smart phone.
My approach to my Instagram feed continues to be all square photos are taken with an iPhone, and full-frame horizontals and verticals are taken with a DSLR (usually a Canon 5DMark3, but I’ve also posted some from Sony, Nikon and Leica cameras).
There's a beauty about Instagram's original square format – a creativity derived from the boundaries of constraint – that I still see as the purest expression of mobile photography. Some of Souza's photos are somewhat staged, but the majority of them have taken on the spur of the moment, where a smartphone makes for an excellent storytelling tool. Fantastic shots. I love the last one.
As reported by TechCrunch, Instagram yesterday announced several changes to its 'Platform Policy', the document that developers must agree to abide by if they want to use Instagram's APIs. The changes will impact a number of developers, but one of the most significant consequences is that third-party apps which would present a user's Instagram feed will not be permitted under the new rules.
That means the many third-party apps which sprung up to offer the Instagram feed on platforms which Instagram has never supported, whether it be Flow for the iPad, Photoflow for the Mac, or Tangram for the Apple TV, will no longer be permitted.
On its Developer Blog, Instagram notes that the changes are aimed at improving "people's control over their content and set up a more sustainable environment built around authentic experiences on the platform". Instagram wants developers using its API to work on apps that do things such as:
Help individuals share their own content with 3rd party apps, such as apps that let you print your photos and import an Instagram photo as a profile picture.
Help brands and advertisers understand and manage their audience, develop their content strategy, and get digital rights to media. Established apps in this space may apply for our newly announced Instagram Partner Program.
Help broadcasters and publishers discover content, get digital rights to media, and share media using web embeds.
Instagram is adopting a phased approach to implementing the new policy - new apps will be reviewed under the new policy, and Instagram will begin granting full API access starting December 3, 2015. Existing apps will need to be re-approved under the new policy, but they will have until June 1, 2016, to do so. Instagram is also introducing a new Sandbox Mode which will give developers access to the Instagram API so that they can privately build and test their apps whilst their app is being reviewed by Instagram.
Instagram has launched Boomerang today, a new app for iOS and Android to create and share animated photos that play forward and backward.
Instagram announced yesterday that they had hit the milestone of 400 million monthly active users:
We are thrilled to announce that the Instagram community has grown to more than 400 million strong. While milestones like this are important, what really excites us is the way that visual communication makes the world feel a little bit smaller to every one of us.
Our community has evolved to be even more global, with more than 75 percent living outside of the US. To all the new Instagrammers: welcome! Among the last 100 million to join, more than half live in Europe and Asia. The countries that added the most Instagrammers include Brazil, Japan and Indonesia.
I can't believe its been nearly five years since Instagram launched, it really doesn't feel like it's been that long. But I was really surprised to remember that Facebook acquired Instagram in April 2012, when Instagram had "only" 40 million users. If I recall correctly, a lot of people thought Facebook was crazy to buy Instagram for $1 billion. Well, I think Facebook got the last laugh on that one, and as Forbes points out, Instagram now has more monthly active users than Twitter (316 million).
It's been a few years since I updated my Instagram growth chart, so here's an updated version.
I've been using Instagram (shameless plug) almost since day one, and although I don't post to it that frequently, I do look at my feed on a daily basis. For the most part I've always used the official Instagram client, except for a brief period when I also used Flow, an iPad Instagram app. Until this week, I'd never tried an Instagram client for the Mac, which is what Photoflow is.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Photoflow includes virtually every single feature that the official Instagram app has. Of course there is one giant exception; you cannot post images to Instagram from Photoflow. But that's a restriction that Instagram has imposed on all third party apps, it's not a failure of Photoflow. But almost everything else, whether it be liking images (but not commenting), interactive hashtags, featured images, viewing profiles or searching nearby locations is available in Photoflow. It also supports easy account switching and can send you notifications for new images, comments, likes and followers.
From yesterday (still catching up after a short vacation), Instagram is preparing to roll out higher resolution uploads on mobile devices. Vlad Savov writes at The Verge:
An Instagram spokesperson tells us that the company started “gradually rolling out 1080 across iOS and Android” last week, meaning that most people should already be seeing the higher-resolution images in the mobile app. Alas, Instagram on the desktop remains a second-class citizen, as Instagram says that “right now we are focused on mobile, with no plans to share on web.”
The often-derided (but also iconic) low-res nature of Instagram was instrumental five years ago to make uploads feel fast, but, given the progressive availability of 4G networks these days, the time is right for Instagram to bump up the resolution a little bit.