by Jamie Young
April 5, 2013
Despite the fact that 79 percent of statistics are completely made up, I’m going to tell you that only one out of every 50 smartphone users doesn't have an Instagram account. Or, at least, the other 49 did before Facebook acquired Instagram last year. Yet, I know very few smartphone users who don’t use the photo app. Is there just something about those hipster filters that makes us unable to stop uploading photos of our lattes and cats? Maybe. But it’s also definitely about the people. Social apps are always about the people. And sharing. We live in a World Wide Web of over-sharing. We want to share what we did, what we’re doing, and what we will do. We share photos and words and links and products. We’re a walking advertisement for the things we love. Although Instagram is pretty good at helping us share photos, there are a lot of new features that could make the experience even better.
iPad Optimization: D’uh!This is number one for a reason: Make the app universal already. How long have you been around, Instagram? This should go without saying. I definitely find myself browsing Instagram photos more than posting most times. In fact, I know a good number of users who have accounts for browsing purposes only. We already have Instagram on the Web. Where’s the iPad version? Sure, 2x mode on the newer iPads isn’t that bad, and there may be plenty of iPad apps that you can use to view your Instagram timeline, and interact with photos, but making the app universal is a must. This would even bring in another set of users: those who just have an iPad and no iPhone.
iCloud SyncAnd what would a universal app be without iCloud sync? Exactly. Once the app is universal, integrating iCloud sync to always remember where you left off, and what notifications you’ve already viewed, is.
Multiple AccountsSome of us have multiple Instagram accounts. Right now, there is no way for us to manage them simultaneously. Instead, we must log out and log back in and log out and back in. There should be an easy way to add multiple accounts, so that we can quickly toggle between them when needed. Logging on and off just to post one photo on your company account, for example, and then going back to your personal account, is too much of a pain. We have better ways to spend our time — like actually posting photos on Instagram.
ListsAnyone who knows me will tell you how much I like lists: to do lists, bucket lists, hit lists — I have them all. And one of my favorite types of lists is the Twitter list. Mind you, only in Tweetbot does it do me much good, but Twitter lists are indispensable to me. Following people on Instagram can get messy. Just like Twitter, we follow people for different reasons. Maybe you follow some people that are complete strangers because they post beautiful landscape photos. And then you probably follow people you actually know because, well, you know them. But what if the people you actually know take crappy photos? What if you want to only see the photos from certain people at certain times? Maybe I don’t care to see the numerous photos of your weekend in Las Vegas plastered all over Instagram, but I do enjoy your other photos. Sometimes I may just want to make lists of people I follow for different reasons. People I follow solely because they post great nature shots would be a list, websites and companies I follow would be a list, people I work with … I could go on, but you get the point. I like lists.
Limiting CaptionsOkay. This may not bother some of you, but it irks me: Some users tend to post very long captions on their photos. Placing a character limit on captions would allow us to view more photos and less blocks of text – and, after all, isn’t that the point of Instagram? Alternatively, if a caption is longer than a set character count, the rest could be hidden, so we’re not burdened with a giant explanation and, instead, can focus on the photo itself. Then we could tap “More” or “Read More” if, you know, we actually wanted to read more.
Clickable LinksAlthough Instagram is about sharing photos, sometimes there may be links we want to accompany them. As it stands, you can freely post whatever URLs you want, but there really isn’t a point as they are not clickable. We can already easily click on usernames and hashtags, let’s add some linkage into the mix. Even if there is no browser in Instagram, opening the link up in mobile Safari would be a huge step forward.
Copy+PasteThis feature could also replace linking for the time being. If we were able to copy and paste links from Instagram, at least we could easily navigate to them in a browser elsewhere. Also, sometimes I may want to paste something in: like a username (because the Instagram user search is hit or miss) or a quote. These features will not only make Instagram better for its current users, but even bring a new group of users to the photo sharing app. I’ve mapped out your battle plan for you, Zuck. Step it up!