Who isn’t familiar with the rollercoaster ride of the popular photo editing and sharing wonder, Instagram, on Android. Just hours after its release to the Google Play Store, the highly revered and anticipated app amassed a million downloads; then within a few days of arrival, it surpassed the five million download mark, thereby going on to become the most popular Android app from the social genre. Not to forget, its acquisition by the social networking giant, Facebook, is yet to yield some fruitful outcome. It’s not that the smartphone world wasn’t familiar with the potentials of Instagram before it hit the Play Store – try asking an iOS user for whom Instagram was once the sole reason for showing off rather proudly before ‘other’ mobile users. Having said all that, there is something about the entire package that die-hard Android fanboys are found yearning for, and those with iOS-powered devices can only dream of as of now: a homescreen widget! I mean, how could an app of the caliber of Instagram afford not to offer said feature to, at least, the Android users? While iOS users can hinge on a miracle to get said feature on their devices, it’s time for Android users to rejoice, as BlinxBox is here.
If you thought that you’ll be introduced to the aforementioned (widget) feature by the team behind Instagram themselves, you thought wrong! BlinxBox, an Android homescreen widget dedicated to displaying your Instagram feeds, comes from a third-party developer. The widget is updated with the latest content automatically, and for each new photo added to the stream, BlinxBox keeps you apprised via status bar notifications, as well as lock screen alerts. Using the widget, you can sift through the photos within your Instagram feed, Love them, comment on them and share the best ones on Facebook, all from under the same roof, and right from your Android’s homescreen.
BlinxBox also lets you view enlarged version of your favorite images, complete with the total number of likes they’ve managed to gather, as well as the comments that they’ve received. The best thing about BlinxBox is that it doesn’t even require the official Instagram client to be installed on your device. Instead, all you need to do is install the widget on your homescreen, authorize it to access your Instagram account and wait for your photo feeds to show up. Once the widget is activated, you’ll see the BlinxBox icon added to the notification area, tapping which lets you configure the widget’s settings. These include the option to set a custom notification ringtone, toggle vibration upon receiving notifications, and enable the (full-screen) lock screen notification feature.
Barring the initial (and rather prolonged) feed retrieval time, most of the things about BlinxBox are pretty impressive. Still, there are a few goodies that can make the widget far more dynamic and visually appealing. For instance, we would love to see the photos on the widget scroll automatically, in the form of a carousel, the sharing options can be expanded with the inclusion of Twitter, Google+ et al, and some sort of connection of the widget with the Instagram app (if it is installed) would be more than welcome. Moreover, the widget does not seem to oblige to our request of resizing it to our liking. It comes in 4 x 2 by default, and seems to stick strictly to said size, no matter what way you try to resize it – on ICS, as well as non-ICS devices.
BlinxBox for Android is absolutely free in the Google Play Store, and requires Android v2.2 or higher to run.