If you’re a smartphone user and you don’t already have Instagram, read on to see why this camera app is taking over the world of mobile-phone photography.
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Instagram is a photography and video app, a social media-sharing platform and an insanely popular tool to publicize your candids of choice. Even President Barack Obama himself joined the photography-app service. If you have a smartphone, chances are you have the Instagram app. And if you're a regular user, you’ve probably heard the latest big news: Instagram now has videos. Instagram has gone through some major changes recently, having been purchased by Facebook in April 2013 and now adding a video component to rival that of Vine. But before we continue to stroke this app’s ego, let’s dive into the mobile app’s functions, bells and whistles.
First off, Instagram isn’t just a cool tool for taking photos and videos; it’s also a social platform. When users download the app, they’re prompted to create a username and password for the service. Here, you can follow your Instagram-happy friends and see who’s snapping what, plus like, comment on or share others’ photos and videos from the app’s main feed. You can even see what people your friends follow, what your friends like and all those other TMI details that are now the norm thanks to services like Facebook. Though you can follow certain friends, everyone on the Instagram platform can see what you and your account posts. You can, however, set your profile to private (followers only) if you wish.
So what are users sharing, liking and commenting on? The photos and videos, of course. And not just any photos and videos—these are advanced smartphone photos and videos, sometimes 8-megapixel camera shots (if you're an iPhone user) and definitely comparable to your run-of-the-mill digital camera. After users take their photos or videos, they then choose from an array of filters to take the imagery to the next level.
This is Instagram’s bread and butter. Everyone loves the feeling of applying photo effects to their pics, and now vids, making them look, well, not like mobile photographs. From the sepia-like Toaster filter to the shadow-enhancing X-Pro II filter, a simple picture of a toothpick can transform into a Warhol-inspired piece of art with the tap of an Instagram filter. And don’t forget Instagram’s well-known photo border—a feature so simple yet so desired that it rivals the outrageous business concept of Silly Bands.
While Instagram users used to be limited to still-shot photos, new updates allow Instagrammers to now record and share videos. It’s likely that this update was sparked by the recent spike in Vine's popularity (Twitter's video-share app), and Facebook doesn’t want to fall behind the trend.
There are a few differences between the two apps, though. Videos on Instagram can be up to 15 seconds long, almost three times the six second limit on Vine. Users can also add filters to their videos. Lastly, the videos don’t loop or play back continuously like on Vine. It will be interesting to see how these updates play out long-term. Will Viners abandon Twitter’s video-sharing platform to use their Instagram, on which they’ve already established a considerable following? Only time will tell!
Some things are so hipster, so popular and so cool, that even if you’re an against-the-grain kind of person, you can’t even question them. Indulge in Instagram if you haven’t already. It’s free.
For more ratings on this app's security, battery consumption and data usage, check out Verizon's Android App Reviews.
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