A couple of turkeys hanging out at the local fair.On Tuesday, Instagram released the long-awaited Android version of its photo sharing app on Google Play, allowing a new crop of users to shoot, edit and share photos with friends and strangers alike. For those who haven't used Instagram before, it's a social tool that relies solely on image sharing, and broadcasts the uploads across four popular social platforms: Facebook Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr.
While the premise sounds somewhat simple, Instagram is surprisingly addictive. It's a way for users to share their world in an artistic way without having to use words. Images are initially either pulled off the device's SD card, or taken through the camera. Honestly it makes more sense to shoot first and then edit later, as other one-chance imagery may crop up while the user is busy editing the previous shot.
While Instagram's editing capabilities are limited, it can get tough to choose the right setting. Pictures must be cropped to an equally-sided image, meaning all those rectangular (landscape) shots previously taken will lose some imagery if users haven't taken the shot with a box format in mind. Once cropped, the image is pulled into the editor where users can add or remove a frame, brighten or darken the contrast, and apply a filter from a choice of 18.
Instagram can fix contast problems with a simple touch.To some degree, users seemingly receive 36 filters if you count the results from the contrast button. That means they may spend some time checking out the eighteen filters on one contrast setting, and then press the contrast button and cycle through the eighteen filter settings again. For a perfectionist, this can be maddening -- good thing this app doesn't allow for filter imports.
Once the picture is perfect, users then add a description and upload it to the four platforms if desired. The Instagram app itself is simple to set up, and even provides an option for geo-tagging. The only drawback to the Android app is its overall size after installation, measuring a hefty 16.93 MB -- sorry, no app2SD support as of this writing.
Instagram isn't all about taking pictures and showing them off to the world. It's also about socializing with other photographers. Users can import other Instagram members from their Twitter, Facebook, and phone's contact list, and choose to follow their uploads. To "like" someone's photo in the app's Home page, simply double-tap it. There's also a place for leaving a comment. Likewise, images piped to Facebook can also be "liked" and commented on, but these messages don't show up in the Instagram feed.
According to the Instagram blog, there are actual Instameets and photowalks happening locally. "It’s a fantastic way to meet other great photographers, and to get the most out of Instagram’s greatest feature: our users!" the blog reads. The blog also provides links to the Help Center which provides info on taking photos, editing and sharing, and even combining multiple photos to produce one Instagram shot.
"For the over 30 million people already using Instagram, this is a big step forward for the community as a whole," the company said on Tuesday. "When we started working on Instagram, we tried to imagine what the world would be like if every single person on earth could share the world around them through the lens on their phones. With the release of Instagram for Android, we’re one step closer to making that goal a reality. Now, more of your friends and family can share their lives, and follow yours, through a series of beautiful images."
To get started, download Instagram from Google Play here. Just remember: it can get addicting, so don't say we didn't warn you first.