Eagerly anticipated by Android users all over the world, the elusive photo-editing and sharing app Instagram – that was, thus far, iOS-exclusive – has just made its way onto the Google Play Store (now optimized for Android tablets as well). The news comes as a pleasant surprise to the Android world, as there were no official announcements made regarding the app’s release date. However, now that Instagram is finally out for Android, you can start following your iPhone-owning friends’ photo-based activities on Instagram, browse the service’s online image repository in various ways, get into the social side of things by following other Instagram users, commenting on and liking their photos, use the popular ‘Lux’ effect to automatically adjust your images’ brightness levels, and of course, capture, apply filters to and share images from your Android device. The only feature that seems to be missing from the app as of now is the tilt-shift blur effect that works so well in the iOS version. Update: Tilt-shift has now been added.
Needless to say, you need to have an Instagram account to use the app. Registration is absolutely free and can be done from within the app.
The app’s homescreen comprises several tabs, the very first one of which (from left) is the home tab that lists the latest activities of all the users who you’re following on Instagram. Tapping the star tab reveals all the popular images shared publicly on the network. The tab with the heart icon is dedicated to displaying all the news, activities and notifications regarding you as well as your Instagram followers. The last tab on the app’s main screen is for your Instagram profile. It shows you the total number of photos you’ve shared so far, your followers, as well as the people who’re following you on the network.
The button in the top-right corner of the profile screen (beside the search button) reveals the app’s preferences menu, which allows you to set your photo uploads to private (other users can’t follow you without your permission), find friends on Instagram, view all the photos that you’ve liked, modify the app’s camera settings and more. You can use the aforementioned search button to discover images both byand users.
Now to the all-important camera tab, tapping which lets you snap a fresh image, or import one from your device’s local storage. Once you get the required image, the app lets you crop it before launching its editor. Here you have all the gorgeous filters that Instagram is known for aligned along the bottom of the screen. Swipe across the filters browse through the list.
The top segment of the editor holds (from left to right) the frame, Lux effect and rotation buttons. Once finished with editing, tap the arrow icon at the top-right of the screen to head on over to the sharing screen, from where you can add a caption the image, toggle the geo-tagging option on/off, and pick additional social media to which you would like to share the result. As of now, the app supports sharing images on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare whereas the support for Flickr will be added soon.
You can, of course, always launch an image viewer or the stock Gallery to view the local copies that the app saves to the sdcard/Pictures/Instagram directory and share them using any supported app.
Now, after having seen so many other impressive alternatives to Instagram, I must say that, feature-wise, the official Instagram client for Android, is certainly not the absolute king of the photo-editing and sharing genre, but that’s just my opinion. Furthermore, being feature-rich isn’t the only thing that counts. It is the app’s ever-growing photo-sharing network that is constantly giving competitors a run for their money.
Update: The tilt-shift feature that was, for some unknown reasons, missing in the debut release of Instagram has finally been added. Provided you’re running the latest version of Instagram, you can now access said feature while within the app’s image editing interface, where its button sits in between the frame and the lux effect buttons.