Instagram has finally made it to the world of Android. I like the app so far and I understand why its been wildly popular. The app has two main strengths, and there’s real potential for this app be something more empowering than a simple utility.
Let’s start with the image processing software: it works really well. My Droid Bionic has a lousy camera. It produces blurry images with more frequency than I’m comfortable with. Instagrams’ image stabilization software compensates for the hardware’s shortcomings, and their filters make standard images “pop” with some level of style.
The second and more important point is how easy the entire process is. You take a picture, do something to it and upload it somewhere. That process has been designed for efficiency, and, especially the the second step (e.g. doing something to the image), simplicity.
Most people may not be familiar with editing images on their smart phones. To accommodate these folks, the Instagram app removes complexity of, say, a Photoshop app and provides a simple set of filters. Once a filter has been selected, the filter is applied to the image currently in view. When your satisfied with the way your image looks, you hit upload, select a few social networks to share it to and you’re done. Its all very simple.
It is tempting to consider the argument that this simplified process will eventually limit the ultimate expressiveness of the individual. To some extent I agree with this idea. However, the simplification provides a great starting point for someone new to photography. The more curious users may venture further into the broader world of photography. As such, the simplified process empowers people at some level, and this empowerment should be leveraged in the future.
One way to do that would be create an “Instagram Pro” app that provides more robust image editing tools. Doing so, will further empower people who use Instagram. A potential consequence would be a cognitive shift in how users think about Instagram.
Currently people think about Instagram in following way, “Instagram lets me easily create cool pictures.” I believe it can and should one day be, “Instagram teaches me how to make pictures, and that’s cool.” It becomes a different and more rewarding experience. Let’s hope this is one of the ideas floating around at Instagram HQ when they’re discussing how to make their business profitable.