Five minutes with Instagram for Android

Five minutes with Instagram for Android

Summary: Unfamiliar with the wonder that is Instagram, I take a look at the latest n' greatest addition to the Android app catalog.


In case you hadn't heard, Instagram's now on Android. And it's made a lot of people angry.

Not Android people of course; they're ecstatic. iPhone stalwarts, however, are less than enthused, for unknown reasons. Maybe they don't like sharing, or perhaps they're unconsciously aware of the intensely likely possibility that adding lots of kids to your clubhouse makes for a pretty loud and smelly clubhouse. I don't know.

Whatever the reason is, Instagram on Android is a good thing. It's good primarily because it opens up the app to many more people - perhaps an obvious conclusion, but one lots of angry iPhone users have probably ignored.

And it's good for me too, because, as an Android user, I had never gotten a chance to use Android on my own either. Was Instagram as delightful as people had been saying? Would it spark in me a flurry of artistic creativity? Only by using the app could I find out the answers to these questions.

So, in the spirit of curiosity, journalism, and sheer gumption, I did just that. I downloaded the app from Google Play, installed it, and, after creating an account (Username: R2__B2. Follow me?), took a picture of the most dull thing I could think of -- my fire escape.

Then came the filters. Amaro? Rise? Hudson? Were these the names given to the oh-so-hip effects applied to decidedly non-hip things like sunsets and shoes? Apparently, yes.

The filters, however, both confused and overwhelmed me. There were too many of them, for one, and their names seemed arbitrary and useless (I couldn't tell you what the name "Walden" has to do with anything, for example.) It was here that I realized that there's a sort of game to choosing the proper Instagram filter, and you have to have an eye for which one best suits your photo. (For the shot above I went with Sutro, though there was a fleeting struggle between it, X-Pro, and Hudson.)

Of course, in the end, the final product only vaguely resembled the photo that I had initially taken. I guess this is the central idea behind Instagram, or at least why so many people enjoy using it. It takes the familiar and boring, shifts the color palette, and creates something entirely new. Even the most mundane object (your foot, a cup of coffee, a cat) is transformed into something unique and different once you lay a filter on top of it. Everything's a readymade.

After the filter is applied, Instagram introduces its social side. The uploading step gives you the option to inform members of Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Tumblr that you've just uploaded a picture. There's also the option to Geotag the image. I have zero interest in doing any of these things, nor do I have any idea what I'm supposed to put in the caption field. So I just leave things as is.

So with no social media connections, the photo sits alone. This, I realize, is a major mistake, and misses literally half the appeal of using Instagram in the first place. After all, what's the point of taking fabulously artistic photos if you fail to share said photos with the people of the world?

Prying further, Instagram really is barren until you follow some people. With the exception of the popular photos (which, notably, is populated by entries from "kardashians_on_e", "girlzworld" et al.) there's really not much going on by default on the app. Which is either good or bad depending on which side of the "less is more" fence you are on.

So far, I'm mostly indifferent to the whole thing.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • "Unknown reasons"?

    Just check yourself: iPhone 4S: versus Nexus:

    Android phones are countless, but only tiny number of models have good picture quality. And [b]none[/b] has five lens optics that prevents the blurring near the corners of the picture.

    So while some "Apple elitists" might worry with Instagram coming to Android because of their fanatic zeal, others simply hate how their photo feed would be filled with horrible photos by those mostly incapable Android devices. There are at least 40 million iPhone 4S devices in the wild, and quantity of Android phones with photo quality that is just about iPhone 4 is rather small. By far most of Android devices are incapable.
    • Edited out

      Edited out

        What a nice compliment to Iphone users.....Stalwart means, dependible, reliable, rugged individuality, plus an alegiance to a group, such as a regiment.

        So Iphone users are reliable and dependable, but then Ricardo you say unlike Android users.

        So, in Todd Bottom3's realm of interpretation, this would mean that you're saying Android users are unreliable? Wow!
    • Prove it!

      The Note and Rezound both have excellent image quality an I do not see blurring at the edges... Furthermore, the images on instagram are not using the full frame but rather just a center crop.

      Now as for Android cameras, most are very capable thanks to the added controls... If I let my old incredible handle image details then things got ugly, when I took control the images were great.
      • "Prove it"? Just check second link from my post above

        iPhone users complain that the quality of Instagram feeds gets dramatically lower once they allow Android devices. This is because of the fact that among crazy gazillions of Android sold devices, only few million have good cameras. All the others are bad.
      • Umm

        DeRsss that isn't proof! How about real evidence for a change?
      • "Proof"? Again: just check second link from my first post

        @Peter Perry: Also, do not be childish by pretending that you do not know that most of Android devices are cheap (many times cheaper than iPhone or best of Android devices) and incapable. Even the best ones do not have five-lens system, so pictures they do are optically worse even at much higher megapixels number than iPhone 4S/iPad 3 can offer.
      • Oh, you need to babysit it?

        So, Peter, you need to babysit your phone's camera? That is, if you let it do it's thing the results are poor? Is this because of Android? Or is it because of the 'great' hardware? That is, the capable hardware and software. If they are so capable, why then you have to fiddle with it? Are you happy fiddling with it?

        And, by the way, how many Note and Rezound phones are out there?
    • Really?

      You're arguing picture quality? PICTURE QUALITY? If that is the heart of your argument then defending any phone and/or instagram just makes you look dumb. If you're looking for picture quality go find a real camera and a photo editing package.
  • It certainly did not wipe me off my feet.

    Since the whole little world of Apple had been going gaga over it, I decided to install Instagram on my Android device. Before I proceed further, I would like to tell you that I have had Ubuntu One, Lomo Camera and the Facebook app already installed, I think, about a year back. Well, as far as I am concerned, Instagram brought nothing new to the table.

    See, it makes me feel sad about the iPhone fan-boys and their so called "Exclusive" group of idiots. They remind me of nothing but slavery. Is it so hard for them to treat an application as an application, rather than a miracle?
    • Why?

      The iPhone plays on the need for certain adults to relive their high school cliques and be part of the cool club... Only this time, they can buy their way in!
    • Wasn't it great Android experience?

      What was you point?

      Instragram didn't work great on your Android device? Pictures did not magically improve?

      The pictures on the iPhone are better because of the better camera, better hardware and better software processing. No software will make your Android device an iPhone.

      By the way, there is nothing exclusive to own an iPhone --- they are sold worldwide.
      • And your point was??

        That you are a twat perhaps?? Needn't worry, you successfully got that point across. Better hardware/software/camera?? Maybe the combination of the three perhaps (perhaps) but that's about it, and if you've spent any time on say the likes of DeviantArt the last, say, DECADE, you'll realise that this App (across ANY ecosystem) is little more than a passing fad claimed by hipsters and tools!
  • One of your best written articles Ricardo. Thanks.

    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
  • iphone user

    As a longtime user of Instagram, I don't think it has as much to do with the quality of android photos as it does the fact that Instagram is no longer solely "ours". It was a great way to show off the power of the iphone camera and you could revel in the fact that everyone using Instagram had an iphone/ipad. You could share stuff about iphone-only tweaks and settings and app filters, etc. It was unique to the iphone only.
  • oh but u r missing so much fun

    although you are a good writer, you are not a good researcher! spend a little time really taking some pics of your surroundings even within five feet and then add the currently buried artistic flair in you (remember kindergarten) to enliven a pic and you will have as much fun as you did when you were six (well almost)! Do this before you write about a topic you do not understand! You will then become an even better writer.
  • my android camera... much better than any iphone picture I have seen. But maybe it is the iphone users not knowing how to focus/frame or even take a picture.
    • Camera

      Which phone do you have?
  • No doubt Instagram appeals to many people

    I just don't see the big deal. Just another social network to suck the time out of your life. Most post their Instagram pics to Twitter, Facebook & G+ already & I see them there. I already have a couple pic apps that layer effects and am happy with them, and these apps play well with FB, Twitter & G+ too.
    • "...iPhone stalwarts..."

      Huh? What? Phone elitists? This is silly...
      **quickly scans room for any other adults**