So, Instagram finally became available to Android users today. Of course, being the app whore that I am, I scooped it up as soon as I could. I have to say, I was somewhat surprised to discover how underwhelming the app really is.
I am a reformed Mac user. I made the conscious decision to leave all things Apple behind several years ago after spending good money after bad every couple of years when my iPods would die (as if on a timer). It was also time to replace my elderly mac desktop and I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars for a new one when I could get more for less with a PC (so far, so good, by the way). I was already on my way out the door when the iPhone came out and I saw no need at the time to have anything more than a regular dumb phone, so I just stayed out of the iCult.
In recent years, I have been turned onto photography. I also finally had a chance to graduate to the world of the smart-phone. Unfortunately, the money to upgrade two lines to iPhones just didn’t exist. Besides, at the time, it was only available on one network and we were about to be grandfathered into an unlimited data plan with the one we had. We weren’t going to switch carriers, so we got the best Android smart phones with the best built in cameras possible that we could afford (a couple of refurbed DroidX’s which literally cost next to nothing).
So far, I’ve been very happy with that decision. Sure, there are times when I see how easily the iPhone handles certain tasks and get a bit jealous, but overall, I’m very happy with how my phone performs. I must say, however, that I have always been jealous of the gated community that was Instagram. Every day I’d see people posting incredible images and having a great time doing it, and I said, “I want to go there”. I’ve tried many different ways to get that sort of experience out of the Android, but I’ve always been left feeling a bit let down.
Well, today the storied gates finally came down and Instagram let us Android riff-raff into the pool. I wondered at the slick interface… the ease and speed of navigating the image pool… the shiny, happy iPeople holding hands as they ran through golden meadows… then came time to upload my first image. I snapped off an absurdly average image and went to work on going through the deeply textured, immensely layered and complex editing interfa… no wait, that’s not what happened…
After all of the hype, after two years of waiting, after facing all of the snobbish iElitism… it turns out Instagram has only a dozen or so bland, nonadjustable filters… no exposure controls, no ability to crop a photo (unless it’s being imported, presumably to cut off the forced border from some other bland filter app), no real enhancement features of any kind. Ok, you have the option of turning the frame portion of the filter off and there’s this weird auto-enhance button that makes most everything look like an overdone HDR photo, but that’s all you get.
So, it’s an unimpressive filter overlay generator, at best. I already have a dozen of those and most look as good or better. What’s left then? Oh, right… the social aspect.
First, let me point out that taking a photo, applying a filter (I refuse to call this editing on any level), tagging it and sharing it off to Twitter, Effbook, Tumbler and FourSquare are very easy and fast. Second, let me point out that once a photo is posted, people actually see it right away. There’s no strange minimum number of hearts or comments required (I’m looking at you Molo.me) for it to be seen by the populace, so that’s nice. The problem is that the iNazis that make up the populace DON”T WANT US THERE! To these people, being an Android user is like having digital herpes. They might appreciate our photos now and again, but once they catch sight of a sore, we’re shunned!
So, to recap… I find Instagram to be a mediocre photo enhancer made solely to funnel images into a community that wishes to segregate the “i’s” from the “I’d rather nots”. I say let them have their outdated app and their gated community. There are still plenty of options for those of us on the outside (including my new favorite, Aviary). Me, I’ll probably keep posting to Instagram for the pure joy of watching the iFrownyfaces make their faces all frowny and because it is super easy to get a photo out to Twitter and Tumbler. Of course, now that I find that to be such an important feature to my workflow, I’m sure I can find a native Android feature that does it just as well.
Oh, and if anyone does want to find me at the Instagram Country Club, I’m jedwardferguson.