I’m usually not one averse to hypes. This blog right here is testament to the fact that I like to sign up to just about everything, especially if there’s been about a thousand people telling me how great it is. I went ahead and did the same thing with Instagram for Android. What you see below is the first picture I shared via Instagram and even below that, in a lengthy rant, I will explain why it will also be the last.
Instagram, popular photo sharing app previously available for the iPhone only, has about 35 million users by now (according to numbers I could link to but that would mean I’d have to actually look up sources, and, seriously, that’s not what I signed up for). Anyway, it is mighty popular and there’s already a number of brands cooperating with Instagram (a sure-fire sign that a service has gone mainstream).
Yesterday, about a year and a half after its inception, Instagram delivered an Android version. Now, during those one and a half years about a myriad other services were released to satisfy Android users’ hunger for apps that provide the same functionality (namely photo filters and easy sharing). There are some apps, in my mind, which have vastly eclipsed Instagram’s functionality, but – and imagine a long sigh here please – that doesn’t mean a lot today.
You see, it’s the Internets, and here it doesn’t really matter how good you are, all that matters is how well connected you are. And with about 35 million users, Instagram connects the shit out of everything (I don’t believe that’s a phrase yet – consider it coined). Even for vastly superior services like PicPlz, life is hard because they simply don’t get the exposure they deserve. Which leads me to the actual Android app. How much exposure does Instagram deserve, apart from being early? Let’s find out!
I’m far too lazy to actually make screenshots, but The Next Web has a rather thorough comparison between Instagram for Android and its iOS version. And it’s underwhelming as fuck. Firstly: as much as iOS is heralded for its streamlined, simple design, it’s also ugly as hell. I’ve used apps on Android developed simply for the fun of it which looked better. Secondly: There’s an extensive style guide for Android out there. The good people at Instagram obviously spent exactly zero minutes looking into it. What they did is take the iOS version (complete with the no-buttons functionality) and port it to Android. What exactly took them so long, I don’t know, because I’m sure the proverbial monkeys typing away on a keyboard would have created this abomination in less time. Whatever their reasons, I think it shows a certain contempt for the platform and its users. While it’s a shit attitude, I’d have let that slide if the app was packed with exceptional functionality. But is it?
Yes, Instagram lets you put filters on pictures, then send them off to wherever you want. But what the hell is up with the squares? Why does it force me to upload square photos? I don’t really want to get into the whole iOS vs Android thing, but it so fits in the mindset of using iOS that an application forces you to use a certain format instead of the other way round. And I don’t much care for that, no matter how much people rattle on and on about simplicity.
So, what else does Instagram do? Does it have a nice destination page like PicPlz? Well, no. Does it have vastly superior filters, borders and such? No. Is it super fast, doesn’t use loads of memory and isn’t bloated? No, no and no (I admit, this is personal experience and some people may feel it’s about as fast as the Shinkansen, merely nibbles from your RAM and is as lean as a piece of jerky – but I doubt it).
Well, there you have it. Instagram may have millions of users, but it’s not for want of alternatives and definitely not because it’s so good. It just is, and that seems to be enough to spell out success. But it’s not enough for me to actually use it.
PS: Yes, I like dramatic endings to my blogposts, but I’m also aware that they may sound ridiculous and contrived. So let me give you an alternative one:
Instagram is shit, I can’t believe how it got so successful and I’ll gladly leave it to the iOS crowd to fawn over. Who seems to have a problem with Android users getting in on the fun anyway.