Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Instagram remains 'mobile first,' but finally opens Web feed

Instagram only recently debuted Web-based user profiles, but its message was still "mobile first." On Tuesday, the company finally unveiled an Instagram Web feed, meaning users can now watch a stream of photos flow in from their friends. Think a Twitter feed, but Instagram-based.

It was bound to come, after Instagram's acquisition by Facebook in April of 2012. Still, it took nearly a year. As noted above, in November, Instagram started rolling out Web-based profiles, allowing people to view their images at http://instagram.com/[username], but now the service incorporates a user's entire newsfeed.

Here's how Kevin Systrom, co-founder, Instagram, said in a blog post:
Your Instagram Feed on the web functions much like it does on your mobile phone. You can browse through the latest photos of people whom you follow with updates as people post new photos. Like photos by double clicking on them or pressing the like button. Or, engage in a conversation around a photo with inline commenting. Browse through pages of the most recent images to keep up on what’s happening with the people you follow in realtime. And shrink your browser down to a single column for your feed to look more like your mobile feed.

Simply put, we’ve brought a simple, powerful, and beautiful Instagram browsing experience to the Web.
Instagram is still focusing on "mobile first," though. For example, there is still no option to upload from the Web. It is unclear if there will ever be such an option, though we expect one, someday. Systrom explained why the option remains absent:
We do not offer the ability to upload from the web as Instagram is about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in realtime.
In other words, Instagram on the Web is about consuming your imagery, while Instagram on your device is more about producing those images, while still being able to consume them.

It also means that Instagram won't be flooded with non-camera taken imagery; i.e., pictures snagged from the Internet or scanned. It does, in a sense, keep the service pristine, but we'll see if the company changes its mind in the future.

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