As indicated in the past few months by the latest phone releases, a phone’s camera is becoming increasingly important.
Why do I say this?
Well, look at the HTC One series. When the series was launched, Peter Chou talked about how each one of the phones would share two things in common: Authentic Sound and an Amazing Camera. They spent the better part of about 20 minutes during that press conference talking about the camera and how HTC is listening to its users now. That says something to me. That not only were people talking about the admittedly poor quality of cameras in HTC phones, but that they were talking about it enough to make a giant corporation go back to the drawing board.
In fact the camera is such a big deal that a single app that focuses on enhancing your camera use can cause outright turmoil in the world. We have already covered the iPhone user’s supposed hatred about Android finally receiving Instagram; in fact Joe has already reviewed it here, and Vanessa has already given her opinion of it here, so this isn’t going to be a review so much as it my opinions on everything.
In terms of its quality, I’ve heard people that are thrilled with it, seen people that hate it, seen people that are confused by it, seen people compare it to Lightbox or other apps, and most commonly seen people question whether it’s worth all the hype. That’s a good question. Is it worth all the hype? And my own personal answer/opinion is this:
“It was big enough that you felt you had to say something about it.”
It’s an app. Apps come and they go. They get updated with new features and new bugs all the time. But rarely do apps come around that have everyone and their mother talking about it. Bare in mind please that I’m not talking about its features (and like I said this isn’t a review so don’t expect much by way of my opinion), its filters, camera and what not.
What Instagram has done that very few other apps have done as successfully is make people feel like photographers and then helped them share their work quickly across their social circles. It let’s average, everyday people make some small modifications to their pictures and show them to everyone. And let’s be very clear: It doesn’t need to to do much more than that.
They have essentially captured a bit of the essence of what makes Apple products so enticing to the masses. They sold concept and a feeling and not a product. What do I mean by this? Well, look at the way Apple presents and markets its products. “Magical. Fast. Beautiful.” Everyone who buys one feels like they are part of a larger whole, a community, and that they have bought something life changing. Instagram has captured that. But how? And how does that benefit Android? That’s actually the simplest part. A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures capture memories. They are part of the reason Facebook became so huge. They are part of the reason magazines became a staple in literature.
A picture can convey what words cannot.
That’s why books for children often include pictures. They foster comprehension as to what ideas such as love mean where words would only confuse them. And we, meaning we the people as a whole, want to take pictures. Not only that, we want to share those pictures. You want someone else to see it as you saw it. To be as touched as you were by the baby turtle on the beach or be as thrilled as you were when you saw the Dueling Dragon’s roller coaster in Florida. But when you take a picture with a phone, it often doesn’t come out quite the way you wanted it to. And for most people who don’t know much about photography, editing an image to adjust exposure levels or white balance can be a confusing if not impossible. At least, it is for this writer!
And that’s where apps like Lightbox and Instagram come in. They give you some of the easiest and simplest ways to turn the photo you weren’t proud of (and wouldn’t want to share) into something “Magical” and “Beautiful” that you don’t just want your friends and family to see, you want to the world to see!
But how do you share your new masterpiece with the world? Facebook isn’t going to help – you just share with your friends there. Google+ has public options for sharing, but what are the odds that anyone outside of your circles is going to see it and +1 it? The same applies to Twitter but that’s even more frustrating! I don’t know about the average person but I follow a relatively meager (I think) 380 some-odd number of people on Twitter. Information goes scrolling by so quickly that the same post doesn’t stay on screen for more than 4 minutes. The chances for someone missing your post are like your chances for winning the lottery: astronomical. Well okay, I’m hugely exaggerating but you get the point.
Apps like Instagram give you not just a quick way to share pictures with your social circles, but a way to share them with the world if that’s your thing. They have they’re own social network of people just like you who are maybe just starting to realize they have a passion, however great or small, for taking and looking at great pictures. I’ve been using Instagram since it debuted on Android. And I can honestly say that I’m very happy with it. It does what I want it to do, and nothing more. In fact it has made taking and sharing pictures so much fun that I went out of my way to find other apps for Android that can turn a “meh” picture into an “ooooooh” picture. And guess what? I use them all together. I will take a picture with my default camera, and then start putting it through all of photo editing apps before finally sharing it via Instagram.
To the people comparing Lightbox to Instagram or saying that they don’t understand why it was so hyped when it seems to offer so little I guess this is what I want to share with you.
Instagram isn’t so much about its features as it is about sharing your memories, your experiences, and your creativity with the world. It’s about looking at beautiful places you never dreamed of, and seeing interesting people you’ve never met. It’s about the same fundamental idea that make Android itself so wonderful: Anyone can pick it up and feel like they’ve made their own.
And if that’s not worth the hype… Then what is?
Not all of these are taken with Instagram or even edited by Instagram, but they were shared there. And I’d like to share them with you.