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Meet Oggl, Hipstamatic's Take On Instagram

May 14, 2013

Hipstamatic Oggl (Free) by Hipstamatic, LLC is the new Instagram — well, kind of. It’s Hipstamatic’s own take on a micro-social network revolving around photos, except without all of the controversy.

Currently, Oggl is invite-only. I was lucky enough to get an invitation from my co-worker, Bryan, so I decided to give the app a try. Despite all of the controversy behind Instagram after Facebook bought them, I’ve still been using the service regularly. However, now that Oggl is here, I have to admit that it’s a refreshing change from what we’re all probably used to by now.

First off, Oggl features a very slick, minimal interface that relies more on icons than words. It’s also utilizing the “flat” interface design that is become ever so popular as of late, but I actually like it. Even though there aren’t many words that label sections of the app for you, I found it pretty straightforward for navigation.

When you launch the app for the first time, you will need to log in with an email and an invitation code, if you have one. Then, you will find yourself on the main community feed, where you are able to see photos from users as soon as they are uploaded. To refresh, just make use of the pull-to-refresh gesture. At the bottom, you will find four different tabs for navigation: Your Collection (Photo Gallery), Notifications, Your Profile, and Global.

When you are on the global feed, you are able to tap on an image to reveal the user, as well as see the equipment that they used to create the photo. You can also “like” it or add it to your curated photos (think of it as photos you like so much that you want to make sure others see it). You can even access a side panel menu and view Editor’s Picks, San Francisco shots, and even What’s Hot Today. Oggl also has a way to search for keywords, if you’re looking for something specific.

When you want to start snapping your own photos with Oggl, just tap on the button at the top. Personally, I don’t like the fact that the Capture button is at the top, as it’s a bit uncomfortable to reach that far on an iPhone. It reminds me of the non-user friendly slide-to-unlock concept for iOS 7 that we just saw a few days ago. I hope that sometime in the future, the developers change the Capture button to the bottom toolbar, as it would make things a lot easier, in my opinion.

When you are on the new capture screen, you are able to choose between five favorites, which are presets for landscape, portraiture, nightlife, food, and sunset. You can easily change between any of them with a tap, and Oggl will change the live preview to reflect it. With a tap of the plus button on either side of the presets, you are able to go to the Favorite Editing screen. Here, you can tap on a preset to change the lens and film that is used for it, or create your own brand new presets.

To capture an image, just tap on the yellow button. You can also toggle flash and switch between the front and rear facing cameras as well. Your captured images will then go in the Your Collection gallery, where you can edit the image with lenses and films, add a caption, and share it to various social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and more.

Just like the original Hipstamatic, users are not able to import existing images into Oggl. This is to emphasize the creativity in the community, using only the app itself to capture and share photos. If you prefer being able to share any photo you’ve already taken, then perhaps Instagram is still the better option for you.

The initial Oggl download will give users five lenses and five films, so there are a total of 10 freebies that you can combine in any way you see fit. However, like the regular Hipstamatic, there are plenty more lenses and films to play with, at a cost. Oggl has a membership plan of $9.99 per year, or $2.99 every three months. This reminds me of the subscription plan that Synthetic Corp had for their app, Swankolab. The membership depends on how much you think you will be using the app. I think for most, though, the free lenses and films should suffice.

If you’ve already been using Hipstamatic, and have purchased many of the Hipstapaks that they have available, then you will be able to import your existing gear into Oggl in a future update. As of right now, this is still marked as “coming soon” in the app.

As much as I’m enjoying the app right now, there are still a few big flaws. First, for your profile, you cannot even access your Photo Library to import a profile image. Already, this is a major disappointment. Oggl will currently only give you access to Your Collection for options of profile pictures, so unless you’ve already taken self portraits, you won’t be able to upload the familiar face that others probably know you by on other social networks.

I’ve also experienced some glitches when you are switching between cameras quickly, and sometimes the app did not feel too responsive. You also can’t share an image that you’ve already shared, so you will have to make sure that you share it with all of the networks you want from the very first try, otherwise, you’re out of luck. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, the Capture button should be on the bottom toolbar, not the top, as it’s pretty unintuitive.

Despite these flaws, Oggl definitely has potential. It’s a shame that it’s currently invite-only, but you can request your invite from within the app itself, or start asking around for any spare invites. Hopefully they start opening up the app to everyone, and have the gear import sooner rather than later.

You can download Hipstamatic Oggl for your iPhone in the App Store for free.

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