No matter how you look at it, and whether or not you love or hate retro filtered pictures, Instagram is one of the most popular ways to share those pic-worthy moments via mobile. Just snap a picture, choose from one of the 18 equally abhorrent, quality hindering filters and share with all of your favorite social media accounts in the press of a single button.
Just over one month ago, which was shortly after Instagram released its highly-anticipated Android application, Facebook purchased the image sharing network for a cool $1 billion. Since then, Instagram has grown to over 50 million users and continues to add five million new users each and every week.
Many of you, I'm sure, have at least given Instagram a test drive by now, and you likely noticed how bare bones the service is. It's sufficient for sharing photos with your friends, viewing their photos and discovering some of the most recently popular photos and users throughout the service. But, beyond that, features are scarce. Luckily, Instagram has offered APIs to third-party developers, which has spawned an arsenal of any and all services and applications imaginable, bringing all sorts of added functionality to the network.
Having been an Instagram user for somewhere north of a year now, I've come to use quite a few different Instagram apps. Here are some of the most notable I have come across:
When sharing your first picture on Instagram, you will notice that when you try to view the image via desktop, there is next to no desktop support. The service is very basic; you cannot comment or heart (the equivalent of the Facebook like) the picture via desktop. Nor can you do this for any Instagram photos your friends share. The Web page will preview the image, but it prompts viewers to download the application for their Android smartphone or iPhone.
After all, Instagram is a mobile-centric network, so why should they create a desktop client? (I wouldn't be surprised to see a fully-functioning desktop site now that Facebook owns Instagram, chock-full of ads and other money making sponsored posts.) Luckily, if you like to do your Instagram viewing and commenting via desktop, there are services aplenty.
For personal Instagram stats, commenting, hearting and managing your account, Statigram (pictured above) is the most feature-packed web-based client for Instagram that I have come across. (Thanks, Nan!) That said, it's only one of the dozens – possibly hundreds – of sites that offer similar features: Instaview, Instadesk, Carousel, Gramfeed, etc. One of the cooler ones I've stumbled upon, though, is Fourist, which shows some of the best Instagram pictures from big cities around the world of each weekend.
Another popular third-party Instagram service to surface is turning your retro filtered digital images into analog media. You can turn your Instagram photos (or a friend's) into a piece of art for hanging on your barren wall. (Move over, expensive hand painting. Hello, Instagram print outs!) You can order your Instagram photos as stickers, print out photos with real frames, a collage poster, on coffe mugs or even on a high-quality canvas. You can even turn your Instagram pictures into t-shirts, if that's your thing.
If all you're looking for is a small set of stickers, ARTFLAKES offers to print your choice of 10, 25 or 50 stickers for $20.86, $41.86 or $62.86, respectively. Printstagram also sells your Instagram pictures as stickers (although much smaller) at a much more reasonable price – 252 for just $10. In addition, Printstagram sells Instagram captures on t-shirts, in a Tinybook (which is exactly what the name alludes), Miniprints, Minibook and as a poster.
A less affordable option, but most certainly awesome, is Instacanv.as, which is a way to purchase Instagram photos on square, high-quality canvas. Photos can be purchased on either 20-inch, 16-inch or 12-inch canvas for $79.95, $59.95 or $39.95, respectively. I may be crazy, but some of the pictures I've skimmed would look awesome hanging on a wall and belong in a gallery. If nothing else, these could make some great birthday presents, no?
When you publish a new Instagram photo, a copy of the image is stored locally. And, of course, the picture will be available online until Instagram closes its doors. But what if you want to back up all of your hipster photos yourself?
What I used to do was simply send every picture I took to my Box account, manually, immediately after posting. That eventually grew tiring and I set out to find an easier cloud backup method. That's when I came across Instadrop. Instadrop is a no-nonsense, frictionless (automatic), Dropbox backup service for all of your Instagram pictures. Simply login to Dropbox and Instagram from their site and let their scripts do the rest of the work. Immediately after taking a picture and sharing it to Instagram, the picture will appear in the automatically created Instagram Photos directory in your Dropbox account.
There is an alternative to Instadrop by developer ifttt. The concept is the same with minor differences. And, if you're an Android user, you can simply turn on the Instant Upload feature in the Google+ application and send all of your Instagram photos directly to your Google+ account.
When it comes to third-party Instagram applications, the services I use only scratch the surface. And more are added to the pool by the day. If you have third-party Instagram applications you use that I didn't mention, share them in the comments below!