Instagram: photo sharing with a difference.

Instagram effects ©Wikimedia Commons

Sold this week for a whopping 1 billion dollars to a very keen Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram has not been so impressively sought out for no reason. As a mobile based social network centred around sharing photos, its fresh approach to social media has caused its increase in popularity in record time. No wonder Facebook wanted to buy out such an impressively up and coming rival.

For those of you unaware of the ins and outs of this free, five star rated application, its main feature is the number of effects and filters you can apply to a photo before sharing it with the world. The range of filters play with shadows, borders and colour to create a ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’ look, making those photographed look better and transforming everyday objects into twitter worthy works of art. There is also the option to play with focus, to highlight how many extra shots are in your Starbucks or whatever aspect you deem most important in your photo.

The social network side of things is simple but effective, allowing you to follow friends, comment and like their photos. Followers work in a similar way to Twitter; you can choose to be private, but the default setting is public, so people can start to follow you without your approval. You are also similarly provided with two news feeds, one which gives you details about new followers, comments and likes on your photos, and one that gives you information about the people you follow. As far as personal information goes, you have a profile that allows you to share your website, number and birthday, as well as write a bio if you so desire.

The USP (or at least, before the sell to Facebook which may change things) of the app is that it is almost solely restricted to your mobile device. Though you have the option to share your photos with a number of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, your newsfeed and complete photo collection is not accessible from your computer. Initially this mean absolute exclusivity for iPhone owners, resulting in a light hearted snobbery around the uploading of Instagram photos to social networking sites, in a sort of ‘look, this shows how good my phone is’ way.

However the app has now branched out to Android, and the sale to Zuckerburg may result in the transfer of features to Facebook, meaning that Instagram is dropping its exclusive allegiance to Apple and is on its way to taking over the rest of the world (at least in photo modifying terms). As far as apps go, it’s really got it all going on. Free, no adverts, simple to use and pretty fun too.

The only problem is that it has caused a significant few to believe they are world class photographers because they chose a particularly effective filter for a particularly poignant photograph of a flower or a pair of Converse. The trick to Instagram success; don’t take yourself too seriously!

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