Instagram is a widely popular, but unusual, app. It has had a huge success on the iPhone, continually improving over the past few years, but you can’t really browse your pictures or view your profile if you are away from your iOS device. The support for desktop and web versions of Instagram is pretty much non-existent from the developer.
Fortunately, the API of the service is open to any developer who wants to take advantage of it. This gives people a chance to build on the huge community behind Instagram, and make it easy to browse images from locations other than the iPhone app. Today we’ll be reviewing Instadesk – an app that aims to do just that!
What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a wildly successful app for iPhone that allows you to take pictures, apply a range of different vintage effects, and share them with friends across social networks and email. The service has its own internal social “following” system, but the only thing lacking is a great desktop or web app.
Instadesk is a third party app designed to fill that gap. It aims to bring all the functionality and features of the iPhone app to your Mac. It sells for $1.99 on the App Store, and the first time that you use it you’ll have to grant it access to your Instagram account. Once that’s done, you are free to explore.
On the sidebar, there’s a category of items called “Instagram”, where you can find menus like Feed, Popular, Popular Tags and News. Under the Feed menu, you’ll see all the pictures published recently by your friends. These are fairly large, accompanied by the name of the user who uploaded it, the comments and loves that it has had, the date when it was published and the comment that the uploader used in the picture.
The “Popular” menu is the same one than the one shown in the mobile Instagram app. It’s a collection of popular Instagram pictures all over the service. Something I found pretty weird is that while you can look at a collage of all the pictures, there’s a bug that happens occasionally meaning that you can’t bring them up to take a look at a large version, nor see details of the photo. You have to restart the app to get it to work again.
“Popular Tags” lets you choose from a list of trending tags, such as “birds” or “sanfrancisco”. Once again, you can only look at a collage of the pictures and you can’t really bring any of them up to look up info about them or take a closer look.
“News” is a feature that isn’t really used much by Instagram users, but you can take a look at your feed of news in this menu.
The first thing you’ll notice is that whenever you hover over a picture, you’ll be shown a “Love” button. This is pretty handy and a much-needed fast way to bookmark and share your favorite photos. If instead, you click on a picture, it will be shown in a bigger mode and you’ll get to see the comments in a small sidebar.
Also in this sidebar will be the information of the uploader, the filter they used, the place where it was taken, the tags it’s filed under and a small box where you can shout your own comments.
In the toolbar above the picture you’ll see a few small buttons that are pretty self-explanatory: Previous/Next, Like, Download, Open and Share. The “Share” button will give you the link to the pic and the option to post in on Twitter, Facebook or email it.
In the Profile category of the sidebar you’ll find menus like “My Pictures”, “I Follow” and “Followers”. Under the My Pictures menu you can see all of the pictures that you have taken previously with Instagram.
There’s also the “I Follow” menu, which is where you can see all the profiles of the people you are following and bring each of them up to see their pictures and who they follow. The “Followers” menu is very similar, except with people that follow you.
There are also other features, like the slideshows and the albums. The albums are very much like playlists that you can make by adding pictures to them manually. There doesn’t seem to be support for smart albums, but that isn’t really a useful feature in an app like this.
Slideshows are pretty cool, you can bring them up by clicking the “Slideshow” button on the toolbar. They take a while to load at first, but they have very good animations and they even let you select the time spent on each picture – and “love” the picture right there.
Smaller features include a user finder (which works only with Instagram’s usernames, no social network integration) and a menu bar icon that doesn’t seem to do much other than show the number of new items, and give you quick access to the app.
Instadesk does a pretty good job at bringing the full Instagram experience to your desktop. It has some small flaws and a few bugs and details that aren’t very pleasant, like the bug that I mentioned where you can’t view details or big versions of photos from the Popular categories, but these are minor and they could be easily fixed with an update.
Keep in mind that it is just meant to let you browse through pictures – you can’t really post anything other than comments – it’s just made to view your account and those of others.
I think the price is pretty decent for an app like this. But what do you think? The Instagram mobile app is free, so would you pay for this experience on the desktop?