Instagram is a great mobile app for sharing pictures with other people. It has grown quite a lot recently, and since it lacks a first-party desktop app, developers have had their hands full designing apps that bring the Instagram experience to the Mac.
Instadesk was a cheap and useful solution, while Carousel was a more fashionable and simpler, but more expensive solution. What makes Instaview great? Let’s see!
After you buy and download the app, you’ll be greeted with a screen to sign in to your Instagram account through the app. There’s no welcome screen with instructions or anything, which would be helpful. As we’ll later see, this app has a lot of hidden gems that you might find useful, and wouldn’t find out if you didn’t look into every submenu.
Once you login you might be a bit confused as to what to do. You’ll see a single frame, with not much else than the most recent picture from your feed, and a few details like the uploader, time stamp and title of the picture. If you hover over the image, you’ll see more stuff, but we’ll get to that later.
It’s clear from the start that the “gimmick”, or what makes this app different from the others is the interface in which it lets you view your feed. It consists of a simple small square window with few select details in it, like a thin black and gold frame that gives the impression of looking at a fancy painting. You can have more than one frame, each one with different feeds.
There are a couple ways to browse pictures. One of the features that is pretty well implemented (unlike the other Instagram desktop clients), is a slideshow for your feed. Just hover over a picture and click the “Slideshow” button. The slideshows are by default randomized, but you can change that and the time spent on each picture by going into the “Stream” menu.
If you want to see your feed manually, simply go back one by one by using the left/right buttons. You’ll start at the most recent picture and go back to the older ones by clicking on the left button. If you want to view a picture in a bigger window, you can double click it and it will pop up in full size.
Working with different frames
One of the most unique things about this app is that you can have different windows, each one with a different feed or picture. The thing about bringing these up is that they are pretty hidden and they aren’t as easy to figure out how to use.
By clicking on any user, you are shown a button that says, “View,” and if you click it a new window will come up showing the feed of that user, picture by picture. By going into the “Stream” menu on the status bar, you can also select to open new windows in which you can select which feed to view in it (favorites, popular, by location, by user, etc.).
Of course, there is also support for stuff like bookmarking (“loving”) and commenting, and it’s all pretty well implemented. When you hover over a picture, among the many buttons and things you’ll see, on the left bottom corner you’ll have the number of comments and likes the picture has received. You can double click any of these to show who commented on it and leave your own feedback or love the picture. The windows will appear as small dialogue windows with the same vintage feel of the app.
You can also view profiles from any user by double clicking them and do many more things from there, like view their stats and start following them. The app also has its own feature to track viewed and unviewed photos, but I can’t really see how it works as it marks most of my pics as seen. There are also some very hidden themes under the “Window” submenu, that can change the way each frame looks.
As we said earlier, there are plenty of these apps in this market, as Instagram has proved to be a very successful mobile photo sharing service. I don’t think there’s one app for the Mac that has a clear advantage over the other ones, although each one has its strengths. Instadesk is a cheap solution and it’s very complete, but it isn’t the most original or enjoyable to use. Carousel is very simple, pretty and mobile-looking, but it’s also lacking in some features and the price definitely can’t be overseen.
Instaview has potential to be the best desktop client, but it still has some ways to go. The frames, the unread count and the whole interface are all great ideas, but the various features could be implemented better, instead of hidden within submenus.
At first this app may seem too simple, but it actually goes very deep if you look more into every feature and every menu. The thing is, if you never look into it you’ll never find features like being able to set the slideshow timer or being able to change the stream being viewed.
This app tries to be so simple that it ends up hiding most of its features under the hood and never telling you that they exist. It’s not quite the conventional Instagram desktop app, but it works quite well.