It’s been a bounty week for Instagrammers. In addition to the first significant update since the Facebook purchase, the popular social photo app Instagram also quietly added new features to the web interface. You can see the new Photo Page in action here on my Instagram feed.
It’s definitely an improvement over the last web interface update, and definitely a step in the right direction. But for all the fuss over the features of the new interface, there’s still a ways to go before it’s a functional web portal for browsing and interaction.
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First, it’s not really a true “web interface.” Instagram calls it the new “Photo Page” and that’s a better description. The new photo page now allows viewers to favorite images, comment on them and interact with other commenters from the page. Supposedly, you can also follow new users from the page as well, but I was unable to get this feature to work.
The new page now looks more like the Instagram app, with a similar color palette and graphic elements.
What the New Instagram Web Interface Can’t Do
The only way I was able to access the new page is through an email link sent from the Instagram phone app. I was only able to access the individual photos shared via email. I was still unable to access my feed — or anyone else’s — from the my login on the web. I was unable to browse other users’ feeds or profiles. That’s a pretty big, frustrating omission for a “web interface.”
In the web version, there is no user autofill for replying to comments. Also, it looks to me like there’s no way to see the location info on a map as in the previous version of the interface. There’s only a small text tag when location information is in the photo.
Some bloggers and tech websites were already forecasting the end for third-party web portals such as Instagrid, Webstagram, InstaView and others. However, those services and apps provide much more interactivity and functionality for users. The new Instagram photo page does not provide this level of user interaction yet and there is still a need for these outside services.
Watching Instagrammers work and interact almost makes me wonder if the new photo page is more of a feature to share Instagrams with those who don’t use the app, rathere than being the new and exciting way for Instagrammers to interact with the service. To me, a full web interface would defeat the spirit of Instagram, which is shoot, share, and interact all within the app itself, not on a desktop. A full web interface would change Instagram from an iPhone or Android-only club to an anyone with a camera and a desktop club, and probably flood the service even more with photos shot on a DSLR and processed on a desktop.
Instagram’s new Photo Page is definitely an improvement. It seems that changes are coming fairly quickly now that the app is part of Facebook — another new and very good change. I look forward to new further improvements of the Instagram’s web interface. it’ll be interesting to see how they balance the requests of Instagrammers for more functionality with the investments made by third party developers to provide those functions when Instagram was in its infancy.
What do you think of the new Instagram Photo Page? Let us know in the comments below.