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Sometimes, a single photo can’t tell the full story. That can be a problem on Instagram, where one picture is all you get. So the popular photo sharing network has released Layout, a new app to make it easy to create collages and share them on Instagram.
While there are plenty of ways to create collages without Photoshop, Layout’s focus is on simplicity and the ability to share the images quickly with Instagram and Facebook. Facebook owns Instagram, having bought it for a billion dollars. And if you haven’t heard it already, the Instagram founders’ story is very interesting.
Things to Know About Layout
- Layout is a separate app from Instagram, just made by the same developers.
- You do not need an Instagram or Facebook account to use Layout.
- It is a free app with no in-app purchases at the moment.
- Layout is currently available only for iPhones and iPads running iOS 7 or later.
What Can You Do With Layout?
- The word “collage” isn’t exactly what Layout does. Its focus is more on diptychs and triptychs—i.e. a photo collection with two or three panes, each with an image in it.
- Layout mainly uses images from your Photos gallery, you don’t shoot new pictures with the app (except in Photo Booth, which we will come to later).
- So open Layout, select multiple images to put together into a collage, and choose a layout—for e.g. three vertical panes, one rectangle and two squares, split screen, and so on. You can see a live preview of what your final image will look like.
- Finally, you can edit individual images in the collage. You can pinch in or out to zoom. You can flip an image vertically or mirror it horizontally. Or you can just replace an image.
- Once you’re done, save the image or share it on Instagram, Facebook or other options in your iOS share menu. If sharing on Instagram, you can apply filters there.
- Photo Booth is another cool feature, where you can take a series of four selfies within the Layout app to create a quick collage of your reaction to something.
What Can’t You Do With Layout?
- The app itself does not come with Instagram’s range of filters, that is still restricted to the Instagram app.
- Layout only supports still images, not videos or GIFs.
- You can’t add captions to the collage or edit the images in any way apart from the options available i.e. resize, flip and mirror.
Tips to Use Layout Creatively
Layout opens up more possibilities in what you can do with your photos. For example, if you want to show off your new outfit, you can use a split pane to demonstrate multiple angles, like so:
Mirroring and flipping images can lead to some cool effects. It’s all about getting creative, like so:
The Social Media Today blog shares four creative ways to get more out of Layout, especially to push your brand. In each instance, they offer tips on how to send your message across well. For example, when you’re using three images in a comic strip-like fashion to tell a progressing story, make sure the user can understand it without needing to look at a caption.
We have some more tips on how to turn random snapshots into a uniform-looking photo series.
What About Android Users?
Right now, Layout is available only for iOS, but Instagram has announced that in the coming months, an Android version will be available. If you can’t wait, you can already create beautiful collages for Instagram with Photo Grid for Android. It’s free and has plenty more options than Layout.
Layout vs. Competitors
Layout isn’t the first collage-making app, and it won’t be the last. We’ve already shared some impressive diptych and triptych making apps for iOS. In fact, Instagram is now in a bit of controversy since there is an existing collage-making app called Layout on the App Store, which was named in the App Store’s Best of 2012 collection. Its developer Mike Swanson alleges Instagram is being “insincere” in launching an app that does the same thing, by the same name:
In this case, I’m sure that Instagram first tried to register Layout as the app name. When the App Store rejected the name as already in use, they simply tacked on “from Instagram” to pass the uniqueness test. The fact that they made this decision willingly and decided to release it under that name anyway—all-the-while knowing that it would cause confusion with an existing app—is what makes me sad.
We tried out Juicy Bits’ Layout app [No Longer Available] and found it had far, far more features than Instagram’s Layout, such as the ability to add captions, plenty of editing options for each image, and so on. It is quite easy to use too. The only catch? It costs $2, compared to Instagram’s free version.
Our recommendation would be to buy Juicy Bits’ Layout if you find yourself using collages a lot. But to start off, get Layout from Instagram now, try it out and see how much you like making collages and diptychs.
Download: Layout from Instagram for iOS 7 and up (Free)
Share Your Creative Layouts
Since this is a new way of telling a story through images, we are curious how you are approaching it. If you have used Layout or have a creative suggestion on how to use it, drop a line or share a link in the comments below!