Instagram’s New Update Has a Lot of New Stuff

Instagram 3.2 Willow filter
Instagram’s new Willow filter

… But is it any good?

Instagram, for iPhoneThe new Instagram 3.2 update has just hit the App Store. For an Instagram update, it’s heavy on new features and light on the tweaks and bug fixes. It’s not a bad update. I’ve got more after the jump.

If you really use Instagram’s TiltShift feature, you’ll want to read this post before you update the app. >>>

Lots of new features in this update, including a slick new User Interface. Overall, I like the UI update. The size and position of the shutter button are improved on an iPhone 5. The advertised speed increase is really moot as Instagram is more of a shoot-then-process camera app. Visually, Instagram now looks more like a lot of other camera apps. Long-time Instagram users may not like the new look, but functionally the features of the app now look like you’d expect.

I don’t like the layout of the new import feature. Rather than a standard start-at-the-bottom of your camera roll like most photo apps, Instagram now flips the order of the images with the most recent images at the top of the window. You now have to scroll down to find older images. While the net effect is still that import functions the same way, the new import screen displays contents opposite the way nearly every other iPhone photo app displays them. Mentally, it’s a little jarring to make that switch.

Willow is the new filter in this version. It’s a medium contrast black & white filter — not as stark as Inkwell. It comes with a wide, aged, off-white frame. It’s not bad, but it’s far from the return of the classic Gotham filter. I like black & white. I may use it from time to time, but I’ll probably gravitate more towards Inkwell when I need black & white in Instagram (or use a third party app).

Instagram has a history of listening to their users’ suggestions sometimes. As a result of these suggestions, the tilt-shift feature was “improved” many updates ago. I thought Instagram’s original TiltShift filter was just fine for adding tiltshift and other depth of field effects. I’ve long thought that the “improved” tiltshift was too harsh with a very quick rolloff. Whether I liked it or not, Instagram’s tiltshift was a signature effect.

Instagram has “improved” the tiltshift yet again. The effect is not applied as heavy and there is a slightly more gradual rolloff. It’s now more like Instagram’s original tiltshift effect again. If you’re a fan of the old, hard-edged tiltshift, you won’t be pleased with this new tweak. Everyone else will like the more natural gradation and more subtle edge. It’ll save me a few trips to another app like TiltShift Generator.

The old Instagram TiltShift effect
Instagram for iPhone
Instagram’s new, improved TiltShift effect

One more feature/bug fix that isn’t in the App Store update description. Instagram now has better support for the 8MP resolution of the iPhone 4S and 5. Previous versions of Instagram saved imported images back to your camera roll in high resolution, but it was often around 1800-1900 pixels square — often less than a 4MP image on an iPhone 4S and 5. The new 3.2 update does a much better job of saving high res images. You’ll find that your full-res square images are now much closer the the 2448×2448 on the latest iPhones.

Overall, Instagrammers should be pleased with this update. Since the Facebook acquisition, solid updates have been rolling out at a much quicker pace and that’s good for everyone who uses the app.

Instagram is a free app. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. Sadly, this means the later updates no longer work on older iPhones like the 2G and 3G.


Left: Instagram’s Inkwell filter. Right: the new Willow filter


About Marty Yawnick 1826 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • miki

    the number one thing i am thankful for? increased resolution for imported photos. its now something like 2134 for square images which is close enough to full for me. I can always bump it up using BigPhoto; that pixel count is sooo much better than the 1800-1900ish of before. Now I can finally go back to using some of Instagram's filters instead of shunning them altogether.

  • Bambang

    Correct me i i’m wrong…but the ‘import from library’ option has gone missing rite?? The only source available is the ‘camera roll’

    • Kim

      That's what I'm seeing. Not happy about it either. Wouldn't have upgraded if I knew in advance.

    • You are correct. Thank you for catching my oversight. Although I never use any other album to import from other than Camera Roll, that's something that I should have checked. Thanks for pointing that out.


  • Joe

    I personally have reservations with a few things. Mind you, I own an iPhone 4S.

    First the good…

    * I love the new 'News feed'. It's very clean looking and well laid out, getting best from the screen size.

    * The new 'Willow' filter is very nice and a welcoming addition, to what seems to be a lack in b/w filters.

    Now for the bad… (It's all about the camera re-design)

    * The shutter animation, it looks very tacky. It doesn't need to be there, and reminds me of a 'knock off' of what I believe could be an attempt to imitate a Tapbots style look.

    * ALL THAT WASTED SPACE. I know the shutter release is the most important part, but what the hell were they think. They could have at least put something more along side it with the 'Camera Roll'.

    * Live filter gone. They did become useful at times. Enough said…

    * I don't like the transparency above the viewfinder, it's off-putting when trying to frame a shot.

    * It would have been nice if the logo on the shutter release button rotated when the iPhone is turned.

    As you can probably guess. I think its a half a** job of a release. I just hope they work their buts off, and not loose sight of their origins. I did take a dislike since the Facebook acquisition, but hey 'Money talks'. It's seems to a stifled innovation and it's being catered more to further Facebook integration. Trust me when I say it wont be long before a full operation takeover take place.

    Wow! I've got to knock myself on the head to stop the ranting. Doe's anyone out there agree with anything i just said?

    • Thank you for your rant, Joe! You make a lot of good points.


  • Corey

    I was very upset when trying to upload my first picture after the upgrade to find that you now HAVE to crop your pictures to a square. Previously, if i wanted to post a full landscape picture, I could do so w/o cropping and just have a black bar above and below the photo. No more. Now when trying to make the image smaller in the "crop" screen, it forces the image back to full size to fill the square.

    I can't be the only one upset with this, can I?

    • polimorfos


    • chay

      I’m with you hey. Fully don’t appreciate Instagram stealing the sides of a perfectly good photo. Not all photos look better square!
      I too never use the Instagram camera. Since it is quite average. I tend to take them with another camera app and import them.
      Not impressed ey.

      • Marty Yawnick

        Yeah, forcing square format change really hacked me off with the recent Instagram updates. It didn’t effect me *much*. I’ve been using Sqauready for a while to prep Instagrams.


  • polimorfos

    Am I overlooking something? Seems like you can only import photos cropped to square format now…

  • Also, has anyone noticed an "open in" bug? I open in from a third party app, and it does import…but has the camera shutter closed so you can not proof your photo before posting it. Had this happen with an export from Layover app.

  • Orson Willis

    The same old limitation.
    The 1:1 square format. Do this have still a sense when app like Starmatic or EyeEm let you upload portrait and landscape?
    That's why I don't like Instagram

    • This is why I dig using Path. I don’t like the fact that I’m limited when importing my images. Not cool.

  • Kim

    I'll be ditching Instagram if I can only access the camera roll. If there is some way of accessing all other picture, then I can't find it. I organize most of my pics in Aperture then sync back to the iPhone, but they are all in different albums – none of which I can post directly from Instagram.

    I did manage to save a pic to photostream, then save from photostream into the camera roll but that's hardly an efficient workaround and one that I can't really be bothered with.

  • is there a way to turn off the save to instagram album feature? don't want to have to delete every instagram post twice

  • mragan

    They also got rid of the Valencia filter.

    • polimorfos

      Chech again. Valencia filter remains.

      • Wonderful photos. Look fowrard to seeing new ones. It’s a far cry from a young man who didn’t want copies of any photo. You have a real talent for it and I hope you enjoy the process as much as we enjoy the results.

  • Annoy

    Does anyone else have the same problem with images flipping now when you use the camera reversal option??

    • Angie

      yes. it’s the worst thing. any way to fix that?

  • mmason

    I really miss opening from photo stream, now it's all camera roll and since I work on my ipad mostly, I don't use the ipad camera much but do work from photo stream. I'm bummed.

  • Hope

    I’ve noticed that too, Annoy. It’s really pissed me off to be honest.

  • David

    Doesn't work on the iPhone 4S – crashes every single time. Totally useless now.

  • Nadine

    I haven’t been able to use instagram for several days now. I have the Iphone4 and since updating it, it crashes on open. Does anyone know the problem?

  • Madison

    When I post a picture on Instagram, my photos save to my Instagram photo album and my camera roll. When I try to delete it from my camera roll it deletes it from my Instagram album too! I just want to delete it from my camera roll. How do I just make my picture go to the Instagram album?

  • pansy

    i feel silly asking this – i love the tilt shift function but it does not save to my camera roll even when i publish the picture.

    if i pick a filter and publish, then it will get saved to my cameral roll but not if i only use the tilt shift function with the normal filter.

    i am using an iphone 4s.

    many many many thanks

    • #nofilter

      i have the same problem, have you found any solution to it ? i would be thankful if anyone knows how to save a picture treated with the tilt shift function to my camera roll. thank you