Every once in a while a new app enters the mobile marketplace that gets the attention of digital influencers and their large networks of friends. This week, the download darling is called Instagram. The software's tagline is "fast beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone". However, pretty pictures are just part of why in just one week the app has attracted more than 100,000 new users of all kinds.
I first saw an Instagram link in tech guru Leo Laporte's Twitter feed. While lots of people share photos on the popular microblogging site, most of Leo's updates have been text only. However, in the past few days he's already posted more than 30 Instagram pics. Each one takes advantage of the software's creative photo filters, such as "Earlybird" and "1977", both of which give your shots an old-school effect. "Gotham" gives you a grainy black and white look, while "Lomo-fi" leads to a heavily saturated image. There are eight other filters available that affect colours, tones, and borders, giving your pictures an instant makeover.
In other words, if you're not a great photographer it doesn't matter, Instagram makes even the most boring objects look interesting. Sharing Instagrams is easy, just sync up the app with any of your social networks, including Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook. If you're a Foursquare user, you can use the app and a picture to check in to a location.
Also, within Instagram, you can find and follow friends to discover interesting mobile pics. You can "like" and comment on each photo within your Instagram network, and view some of the service's most popular shots. If you want to keep your account private, that's easy to do as well.
Right now the download is available for iPhone or iPod Touch users running iOS 3.1.2 and above. I've been testing Instagram with the 5-megapixel camera on the iPhone 4. Instagram is free. As for when it will be available for other devices, there are no firm dates but the company says on its site that it wants to first make the iPhone experience as solid as possible.