There surely isn’t any shortage of apps for viewing and interacting with your Instagram feed right from your Mac. We’ve even presented a comparison of a few of them to you not so long ago.
Today we’re going to present you yet another newcomer to the Instagram Mac client market that is a bit different from the rest, in that it lives in your menu bar and is considerably simpler (and cheaper) than the rest. It’s called Instabar, so would you like to take a look at it?
Instabar and Instabar Pro
Instabar comes in two versions, a free and a “pro” one. The free one only allows you to see the popular photos on the service and it doesn’t provide any options for you to login to your own account. The paid version goes for only $1 and allows you to do much more like login with your account, view your timeline, favorite pictures, and view comments.
One of my favorite things of Instabar is definitely its interface. Unlike most of its competitors, Instabar runs in the menubar and provides a cool vintage-looking interface that goes along with the Instagram app (much like Carousel, although not as good). The app consists of a main scrollable window where the pictures are shown, a navigation bar on the bottom, and a title bar on top with a couple buttons for switching views and refreshing the timeline.
Pictures can be displayed in a tile view that shows nothing but the pictures, and in a list-like scrollable view that will display each picture bigger and with more details. This view is in fact similar to how you view pictures on the official Instagram app. Each picture will have on top the user, his profile picture and the time it was uploaded at, and on the bottom the number of “likes” and comments it has received.
Instabar’s functionality is pretty basic, besides viewing and liking photos there isn’t much else you can do with it. If you click on a picture you can see the comments it has gotten, but you can’t leave your own unfortunately. Then if you click on the name or picture of a user, you can view his profile along with all the pictures he’s taken recently and you can even follow or unfollow them from there.
The app’s scrolling is kind of weird to get used to at first, but it’s actually very functional and I haven’t seen it applied yet to any other Instagram clients. See, Instabar has some sort of auto-adjust scrolling thing so that everytime you stop scrolling while viewing pictures, it will accomodate the view so that it always fills up the screen with a picture and not half-way through them. It’s difficult to explain, but you can think of it as a more intelligent way to scroll and I’ve found it massively comfortable to use, now I wish every app had this.
My problems with Instabar are mostly because of the things that it lacks, rather than its bugs or flaws. Especially when compared to similar apps, Instabar lacks a few vital features for an Instagram client. For example, it won’t show who loves any picture, it will only tell you how many likes it has gotten. Likewise, you can’t copy or open the photo’s URL so that you can share it with someone or view it bigger. And even worse: it won’t show you the titles of the pictures.
There is also something a little off about the looks of the app. The fonts, buttons and the backgrounds all seem to be blurry or badly rendered. It’s not something that makes the app unusable but it is noticeable. I also noticed a few bugs with the logins. I accidentally logged out once and when I tried to login again I got stuck on the credentials screen. I restarted the app and it worked well again.
Just because of its price, Instabar has a somewhat big advantage over all the other popular Instagram Mac clients like Carousel ($1.99), Instaview ($4.99) and Instadesk ($4.99). It might not compare with any of them in terms of features, but if you’re looking for something simple just to occasionally browse through your feed without too much of a hassle, Instabar might be just perfect for you.
For $1 buck I’d say Instabar is pretty cool. I’ve been a user of Carousel (whose price isn’t so far off from Instabar’s) for the longest time, but I don’t really open it that much since it isn’t always as easily available as Instabar is in the menu bar. With Instabar I can take quick breaks to see what’s new in my Instagram timeline without having to open any apps.
Sure, it still needs some features like a few improvements to the UI, notifications when new pictures arrive, auto-refresh, titles on pictures, and the ability to comment on photos, but for the most part (and especially because of the price) I can’t complain about Instabar. In fact, in the few days that I’ve been using it, I haven’t really missed my old Carousel app that much except for being able to copy photo URLs.
What about you? Is Instagram an exclusively mobile app to you, or do you check your timeline on your Mac too? If so, what app do you use, and what do you like about it? Let us know what you think in the comments below!