iPhone Arrogance Be Damned - Android Is a Good Thing for Instagram
When Instagram launched on Android earlier this week, it was a pretty big story. That much was to be expected. After all, the world's trendiest photo-sharing app had only existed on a single platform for the first 16 months of its existence. Despite this, it grew into one of the most popular apps of its kind, amassing 30 million users in that time.
As a satisfied user of numerous Apple products, I've been lucky to be a part of the Instagram community all this time. Yet I couldn't help but notice a troubling shift in the narrative this week, at least among some of my iOS device-toting brethren.
What should have been an exciting story about the the future of a very popular photo app quickly turned into the most public display of widespread Apple fanboy arrogance we've seen in some time. The reputation that iPhone owners sometimes get for being smug could hardly have been more thoroughly confirmed.
"Ew, Instagram for Android??"
One would expect stalwart Apple champions like John Gruber and MG Siegler to have something critical to say about Instagram's arrival on Android. Their criticisms about image quality do have some merit, but they weren't the only ones making a stink. Far less dignified were the droves of iOS users on Twitter who decried the fact that they would now have to share their favorite photo-sharing app with a whole new group of, as some seemed to believe, lesser humans.
While there were some thoughtful critiques to be read about Instagram for Android, they were certainly not in the form of tweets, many of which were punctuated with the word "ew." As in, "Ew, why can Android users get Instagram now?"
Granted, you can find shockingly mindless commentary on just about any topic if you scrape the bowels of Twitter long enough. Yet something about the volume of anti-Android commentary on Tuesday felt too widespread to be coincidental. Whether it served as a representative sample of iOS users or not, it sure made us all look like a bunch of jerks.
To be sure, it's hard to argue with the side-by-side comparisons Gruber and others have done showing how much better photos look when they were taken with an iPhone 4S than with the Galaxy Nexus, for instance. Still, that's not the only Android device with a camera, so the comparison might not be entirely fair.
Your Instagram Experience Is Yours to Curate
One of the best responses to the app's launch came from Dan Frommer, who kindly reminded readers that "the only photos you see in your stream are those you ask for. So if someone is posting stupid or ugly stuff, unfollow them! It's pretty simple."
Exactly. Who you follow on Instagram is all about what you want to see. I follow professional photographers and amateurs alike. Some people live in my neighborhood and I like to see how they visually interpret the same area that I inhabit. Others live across the planet. Some are friends and some are colleagues, but everybody is followed because there's something about the images they're posting that is relevant or interesting to me. I've actually consciously decided not to follow real-world friends of mine because I didn't find their posts to be especially appealing and I didn't want the extra noise.
It's a simple fact of life that not all camera phones are created equal. I can live with that. And if I click through to a user's Instagram profile and the images appear to be of poor quality, I won't tap the "follow" button. Simple as that.
There are plenty of self-absorbed teenagers around the globe posting portraits of themselves and other mundane images that I'm not interested in seeing. I'm not following them either. There's more to the quality of an image than its megapixels. Indeed, there are lots of people out there taking some horrendous-looking, poorly composed photos in low light using their fancy iPhones.
I for one am delighted that Instagram has landed on the Android platform, even though I don't own a single Android device. It means that the community is growing, probably to a substantial degree. I've already seen dozens of new followers in the last few days alone. But it's not just about my ego.
The app's expansion to Android means that millions of additional people can contribute images to the service, sharing the things they see each day with the rest of us. It opens up new possibilities for the user base as a whole. It's also great news for Instagram as a social network, which appears poised to dominate this particular space for some time to come.