The high-end photography crowd might cock a snook at its filters and relatively low-res images, but no one can deny the popularity of Instagram, the app that lets you add retro camera effects to your pictures and also share them on a network of users, as well as other social networks. Yes, there are other apps that offer you more filters and more sharing options, but Instagram – thanks to its simplicity and we-got-there-first-ness – remains so popular that its availability has become pretty much a must-have for most smartphone platforms. Alas, it is officially available only on Android and iOS. But that does not mean that other platforms have not been trying to get it in some form or the other, even while waiting patiently (and praying) for the “official” avatar of the app to arrive. Well, Instagram has not yet answered the prayers of Windows Phone users, but they can experience the network almost to the fullest courtesy a third party app that not only sounds very like Instagram, but even offers similar functionality.
The app is called Itsdagram (It’s-da-gram, geddit?) and it is available for $1.49 from the Windows Phone Store (available only for Windows Phone 8 at the time of writing, so WP7 users cannot join the party). At 4 MB, it is a light enough download and installs smoothly enough. It claims to be the “only full-featured Instagram client in the market” and well, it certainly delivers a good dollop for the dollar and a half it bills you (there is a free avatar too – but we would suggest giving it a miss). You can log in to the app using your Instagram credentials, which seems a bit odd because you are actually asked to log into “Itsdagram” – for a minute, we actually considered registering for it before common sense kicked in and we used our Instagram credentials. Mind you, a note to this effect would not have been out of the way at the login page.
Once logged in, you can check the images posted by those you are following, the ones you have uploaded yourself, and the most popular pictures on the network at that moment. You can also follow people, like and comment on images, and well, best of all, actually upload images to Instagram from your Windows Phone 8 device. No, it does not come with exactly the same filters as Instagram, but it has a healthy collection including some celebrity ‘sketch-oriented’ effects like Da Vinci and Van Gogh.
So you can see images, post images with filters and effects (if not the same ones on Instagram), and indicate likes and make comments, as well as elect to follow people. And it’s all woven very neatly into Windows Phone’s tiled interface – you scroll to the side for different sections. That’s pretty much the Instagram experience, isn’t it? Well, not quite. Those missing filters apart, there are a few rough edges here. While you can view your profile and change your password in Itsdagram, you cannot edit your profile. There is also no Photo Map facility here and while you can add tags, there seems to be no auto-complete facility so you have to actually remember the usernames of the people you are tagging (a tad tough if you are following dozens of them!). Finally, there is a penchant for crashing at odd moments and for occasionally double posting. And finally finally (yes!), there will be those who will complain about having to fork out cash for an app whose official version is free on both Android and iOS.
The answer to that last query is the same reason that made Itsdagram our app for the day – the fact that it is the only app that comes close to replicating the Instagram experience on Windows Phone 8. If you have a WP8 device and love tinkering around with effects and photographs, this is perhaps one paid app that you ignore at your peril.
Available from: Windows Phone Store