Monthly Archives: April 2012

I’m not going to install Instagram on my Android

I used to own an iPhone 3GS. I upgraded to an HTC Desire HD and haven’t looked back. There were a number of reasons why I switched to Android:

The only regret I had was that there were a few apps for iOS that weren’t available for Android. Instagram was one of them. Many of my iPhone wielding-friends would post very pretty photos online and I always sighed a little that I couldn’t make similar pics. There were Instagram alternatives around, but none of them seemed to have the range of filters – somehow, the Instagram pictures always looked best.

Today, Instagram for Android was released. The Internet is abuzz with reviews, excitement and strangely, vitriol from iPhone users seemingly upset that Instagram isn’t exclusively for iOS anymore. But while I’ve wanted to take pretty Instagram-like photos for ages now, I won’t be downloading Instagram for Android.

It’s for a similar reason that I won’t use services like Posterous – I’m very hesitant to sign up for a sharing-focused service that insists on holding a copy of my content on their services. This isn’t paranoia about what they’ll do with my content (although it always pays to read the fine print), it’s more a sense of wastefulness and¬†unnecessary¬†duplication that stops me.

Posterous, for example, lets users blog easily (say, from email) and will automatically update any linked Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr (and so on) accounts with the latest post. Bewilderingly, Posterous will also update WordPress blogs. But why would I need a Posterous account if I already have a WordPress blog? I can email my blog post to WordPress – and then it will post a tweet and update my LinkedIn status. That’s my social networks taken care of (well, admittedly, not Google+, but then again, Posterous can’t do that either).

The same follows for Instagram. I already have two photo sharing services (and I’ve already been trying to cut it down to just one). If I wanted to share these photos on external social networks, I can already do that, either manually or with a script. Instagram is marketing itself as a photo-sharing social network – but I’d prefer to share with everyone by default – not just those with an Instagram account. Ultimately, I want to take Instagram-like photos, but I want to choose where I host them.

I don’t need another social network, another account, another login, another password to change periodically when I already have services that can be connected together to give the same outcome. Perhaps they aren’t as slick as Posterous’ autopost system, but I feel better about not having my details and my content duplicated all over the Internet. Even from an environmental point of view, it makes more sense to have a smaller data footprint – why have gigabytes of the same photos copied all over the Internet when you can have them in one place, and just link to them from others?

The reason companies like Posterous and Instagram insist on holding your content is obvious from a business point of view – there are huge amounts of valuable data to be collected based on who you connect with, who views your blog or photo, where they clicked in from, etc. Then, of course, there is the opportunity to place ads and generate revenue from user-generated content. I’d rather not be milked like that. Remember, if an Internet service is free, then chances are¬†you are not the customer, you are the product.

It’s been a while since I looked at Instagram alternatives. With today’s announcement, I was prompted to look again. I’m happy to see that the options and quality have increased. One Android app in particular caught my interest: Vignette. They seem to have a very nice range of filters and effects, but most importantly, the developers say this in the product description:

Vignette does not require an internet connection to process pictures like some apps, and does not upload your pictures to a central server like Instagram. Your pictures do not leave your phone until you choose to share them.

That’s reason enough for me to try them out. That is everything that I want from a content creation service.