Review

Instagram (sort of) comes to Windows Phone via Itsdagram; we go hands-on [Update: pulled!]

Instagram has become a contentious issue among Windows Phone users who long to slap filters onto photos of their lunch and their kittens, before sharing them with the vibrant community that has been built up around the popular photo-based social network. Used by everyone from your best friend to the rich and famous, the service now has over 200 million active users who share millions of photos per day.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has had no official presence on Windows Phone, making way for Nokia's knockoff #2InstaWithLove service, created as a 'love letter' to Instagram from Windows Phone users. Step in, Itsdagram, the first Instagram app aiming to be a fully featured client for the photo-network on Windows Phone. 

Created by Daniel Gary, who also developed the Pinterest client Pinstation, the app works with Instagram's web service and can upload pictures to an Instagram account, as well as coming with all the bells and whistles that make the photography-focused social network what it is... except for one key element: photo filters. 

It's important to note that the app is still in beta. 

Design and use

Itsdagram looks and feels a lot like the Android and iOS native Instagram apps, with a stream of photos from those you follow. Gray has taken inspiration from the Modern UI design language, however, adding a "Popular" tab that is a swipe away and integrating similar tabs elsewhere. The app fits in nicely with other Modern UI apps, emphasising the uniqueness that it brings. 

From the home tab, users can scroll to see photos from those they follow, with a single tap opening up the photo to like and comment. Users can also share photos to Twitter and Facebook (once they've logged in) in a similar way to the 'real' Instagram apps.  

Clicking on a name brings up the user's profile, with options to see their photos, who they follow and who follows them. You can also follow/unfollow a user from this window, as well as see every photo they've ever posted via a 3x4 grid. 

Clicking the onscreen search button takes the user to a search pane which allows the indexing of tags and users. From here, a search for #sunset brought up similar searches (e.g. #sunsets and #sunset_madness) and the photo results. Searching for other Instagram users also worked well, but the results were in a jumbled order. Searching for a friend's feed brought up another result before them, despite specifically searching for their username. 

These issues can be ironed out in later updates of the app and are to be expected from a beta version. Despite its beta status, the app works and functions well. 

Sharing photos

Having a nice UI is all very well, but what about actual photo sharing? The app delivers a photo sharing experience that is equal to the native apps available on iOS and Android. I uploaded a test phototweeted it out and the link appeared as an Instagram.com URL, just like the native apps. This is significant because it means that Windows Phone users can finally use an Instagram client without everyone knowing that it's a cheap knockoff.

The photo sharing features are good, with the option to take a photo, or upload one taken earlier. Taking a new photo offers the same experience as any other app that can take photos. Once a photo is taken you can accept or reject it, add a caption, and you're done. Photos that I shared appeared in my followers timelines without issue. 

Unfortunately filters haven't made it onto this version of Itsdagram, but I hope to see them in later updates. There is also no way to "like" a photo, or see notifications of likes and follows from other Instagram users. The lack of notifications is annoying, and slightly ruins the entire social experience of Instagram. Hopefully both of these features will be added in future updates.  

Overview

The lack of an Instagram app has left a gaping hole in the Windows Phone marketplace, especially amongst those who use the app on a daily basis. Many other social media apps are available on Windows Phone, but Instagram have always refused to build one, despite both private and public pleas from Nokia. Luckily for the Windows Phone community, Daniel Gray has stepped in with a useable Instagram app that works natively with the service and provides an excellent experience, if you can forgo the photo filters. 

The app is still in beta and has it's faults (photo filters, anyone?) but with some polishing, the first viable Instagram app could finally have landed on the platform and closed one of the biggest holes in the app armoury. 

Itsdagram is available now for $1.49

Editor's note: This article was updated after publishing to correct an inaccurate statement regarding the use of Instagram APIs.


UPDATE: Well, that was quick. The app has already been pulled from the Windows Phone Store... though not for the reason you're probably thinking. The app's developer posted a comment over on WPCentral, stating: "I pulled it. It was never supposed to be publicly available yet. Someone leaked it and it wasn't ready." No word on when it might return to the Store, but the app does seem to still be working for those who have already downloaded it.

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17 Comments

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According to the developer's Twitter, you can send your Live ID information to his email and he may select you to be in a beta test for this app. What was leaked was a really old version, and he has added many new features since then (deleting photos, editing your profile, likes and comments, 7 experimental filters, etc.)

https://twitter.com/danielgary/status/333687830876418048

https://twitter.com/danielgary/status/333687291975446528 <-- tweet about new features

illegaloperation said,
I quote the developer:

"I pulled it. It was never supposed to be publicly available yet. Someone leaked it and it wasn't ready."

I smell BS. "Someone" leaked it? Publishing an app to the store is not leaking. It's releasing.

TCLN Ryster said,

I smell BS. "Someone" leaked it? Publishing an app to the store is not leaking. It's releasing.

It's in private beta.

You can buy/download it if you have the link, but it doesn't show up when you search the store.

While I don't care for instagram at all I know others do, this is just one thing people who pick up a WP will ask about. If you get an official app the better but if not as long as you have a handful of good alternatives then you keep users happy.

Personally, I think MS should add instagram support into the OS like it has for FB/Skydrive and so on when it comes to photo sharing.

Um I don't use instagram (think it's stupid) but afaik Instagraph has been out for a lot longer than this app and it has photo filters.

maxslaterrobins said,
Doesn't allow the viewing of your timeline, so it isn't a proper Instagram app.

I thought the whole point of instagram was to add ****ty filters to your pictures. By that logic this app isn't a proper instagram app either.

-Razorfold said,

I thought the whole point of instagram was to add ****ty filters to your pictures. By that logic this app isn't a proper instagram app either.

true, but there are apps you can add filters to your pics then use this to upload.