Want to get more out of Instagram? I’m sure you’re not alone. The photo-sharing service is definitely popular, but when you get down to it, it doesn’t really do much. You take a photo, you pick a filter, you tag it, you upload. Not very sophisticated, and sometimes not very interesting either, especially after repeated use.
So after telling you how you can browse Instagram on the Web and on your desktop, after teaching you how to backup your Instagram photo collection, and being pretty sure you all know how to use the regular Instagram app, it’s time to show you some cool mashups, Instagram tools and hacks that will make Instagram even better, for you and for everyone you share with.
TheBeat is a really cool mashup between Instagram and Google Street View. Explored by topic, the app matches an Instagram photo with its geo-location, and presents a Google Street View image of that location. This creates a new and interesting way to get your Instagram fix, adding more context to the photos. At the moment, the project doesn’t seem to include many photos – you start getting repeats when watching one topic for several minutes – but it’s worth it. Try exploring topics like #cars, #cats and #chocolate.
Want to enjoy Instagram when your computer is idling? Instarium is a soothing Instagram screensaver (which sort of feels like an aquarium, hence the name) which can be used in your browser or downloaded as a standalone screensaver for Windows or Mac. By default, the app shows a steady stream of popular photos, but you can sign in and view your feed, your liked photos, your own photos, or any specific tag or user. You can see who posted a photo and like it by hovering over it.
The browser screensaver even comes with ambient music, which you can turn on using a tiny button on the top right (see screenshot). From there you can also toggle the full screen view for maximum enjoyment.
This Is Now is another take on viewing the world through Instagram, showing you what’s happening around the world right now through Instagram eyes. There’s no real way to know how real-time the stream really is, but it’s interesting to watch regardless. You can choose one of the 12 available cities from around the world, or view photos tagged with #thisissnow (this might change every once in a while). The stream gives you a glimpse of a faraway city, or one you’ve visited often and miss, with a marked Instagram atmosphere. Clicking a photo takes you to Instagram’s web interface where you can like, comment, etc.
Search.Stagram is an Instagram search engine that helps you find interesting photos and users. You can search by keywords and tags, and find relevant photos quickly. With the search results, the service also offers related tags you can search for, making it easier to find the photos you’re looking for without having to guess the most common tags people use.
Search.Stagram is great for finding photos, but it doesn’t let you interact with them or provide a link to them on Instagram, so you can’t do much with the photos you find. If you don’t want your photos featured on Search.Stagram, you can sign in and change your privacy settings.
Picsho is a social album creator which I’ve already looked at in the context of Twitter mashups, but you can also use Picsho to create albums from Instagram tags. Search for any tag, filter out the photos you don’t like, and voila – you have your album. You can then share this album as a link or on social networks, embed it on your website, and if you log in to Picsho, also create your own favorites, comment on photos, and more.
In theory, you can also create a mashup album from two or more tags, but in my experience, this doesn’t yield very accurate results. You’re welcome to try for yourself, though.
PicDigest is another service I’ve already told you about in the past, but I couldn’t help but include it here, having found it so useful. PicDigest is ideal for sharing your Instagram photos with loved ones who are not active on Instagram. According to Instagram, the app has 90 million monthly active users, but I bet you know at least one or two people who don’t use it. Why should they miss out on your beautiful photos? PicDigest sends your Instagram (and/or Facebook) photos in a daily email digest to whoever you wish, so they too can enjoy your X-Pro cats and Earlybird desert.
The service is free to try, and costs $2/month or $20/year after the first 30 days. Read a full review of PicDigest.
This one is super simple, and is great for those who use RSS readers to keep up with what’s important. By using this link: http://instagr.am/tags/SEARCHQUERY/feed/recent.rss in your RSS reader, you can subscribe to an Instagram feed for any search keyword. This will work with any keyword, but not with specific users. All that’s left to do is enjoy.
Statigram is an Instagram Web client I’ve already told you about in my post about ways to browse Instagram on the Web. Today, however, I’d like to focus on Statigram’s stats and analytics, which can provide some pretty useful insights into your Instagram activity.
Statigram provides everything from a general overview of your account (number of photos, likes received, comments received, growth rate, etc.) to a detailed analysis of your filters, post density, and engagement, to name a few. It even includes an optimization tab, to help you make sense of which photos work best, and how you can get more likes and comments on your photos.
Statigram has much more to offer, so log in with your Instagram account and explore.
Like dogs? InstaPuppy will get you your Instagram doggy fix with cute puppies from all over the world. Why dogs and not cats, you ask? Cats get way too much attention online as it is, so I figured I’ll create some good publicity for dogs too. When using InstaPuppy, you can either view an automatic slideshow or switch between photos at your own pace. You can share the photos on social networks or email, but if you want to engage with them on Instagram, you’ll have to use Instagram’s own Web interface (click on View on Instagram).
If you’re set on cat photos, there’s also a kitty version called InstaKitty.
Know of other cool Instagram tools, mashup or hack I missed? Do tell me about it in the comments!