Iris App by Eric Hoffman Design icon

Iris App ($1.99) by Eric Hoffman Design is the most beautiful way to browse Instagram on your iPad yet.

Yes, even though Facebook acquired Instagram last week, it seems that Instagram is still popular (especially since it launched on Android just weeks ago). Unfortunately though, there is still no official iPad app, so it’s up to third party developers to create a solution for viewing Instagram on the iPad. Of course, you can always use the official Instagram app on your iPad in 2X mode, but it’s just not the same, is it? Fortunately, Iris App is one of the most beautiful Instagram browsers on iPad yet.

Iris App by Eric Hoffman Design screenshot

Yes, you may be thinking, “Another Instagram app for iPad? Aren’t there enough of those?” Of course, the market may be becoming a bit over-saturated, but I believe that so far, Iris could be the best option yet.

Once you log in to your Instagram account, you’ll be on the main feed. The app works in landscape orientation only, with a Tweetie-like navigation sidebar. You can navigate between the main feed (house icon), popular, your profile, and search. The selected view will be represented with a subtle rainbow glow around the icon — this is a fantastic touch to a gorgeous app.

On the main feed screen, you’ll see images from your friends in two columns. The images will be on a Polaroid-esque frame, which will reveal the username of the photographer, when it was uploaded, and how many likes and comments it has received. The way the images are set up seem to really help make the images “pop,” so it’s a nice touch.

Doing a double-tap will “like” the photo. Tapping on the image will bring up a larger version — think of full screen, but not quite. If you tap again on the larger image, three options will pop up: copy the link to the photo, tweet it, or open in Safari. If you want to return to the previous screen, tap anywhere but the photo.

If you like to peruse through the Popular section (though it seems to be comparable to Twitter trends lately), you will be able to browse through in four columns, so the images are smaller. The same rules apply — double-tap to like, tap to view larger image, and tap again for three sharing options.

Iris App by Eric Hoffman Design screenshot

The Profile view will display thumbnails of your images, and you can see your following/follower count. If you view someone else’s profile, you can also follow or unfollow. However, the most neat thing in the profile view is the globe button — tapping this will show you a map of where a user has uploaded to Instagram from. This is a great way to visualize where you have been, according to your Instagram feed.

Search is pretty basic — you can search for a specific tag or keyword, or search for certain people.

To refresh on any view, you just have to tap on the small refresh button in the bottom right corner. However, the developers have included a fun little mechanism to refresh — pull down the slider above the button (you’ll see a rainbow bar appear as you slide it) and let it go — this will refresh the view as well. Think of a slot machine — it’s just fun to pull it down, even though it may not be as practical. I still appreciated this small touch — it shows that the developers put a lot of thought and care into crafting this beautiful app.

Even though Iris is new, I believe it’s one of the finest implementations of an Instagram app on the iPad. It’s fast, minimal, and beautiful, especially on the new iPad since it’s optimized for the Retina display. Hopefully, if Instagram ever comes out with an official app, it will be similar to Iris in its approach.

Simply put, I believe that Iris is completely worth your $1.99 if you are looking for a great Instagram browsing experience on the iPad.