Instagram officially available for Windows Phone, with some limitations

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Long awaited, long expected, and after gigabytes of texts pondering its absence, Instagram has arrived for Windows Phone. Naturally there are some caveats, notably that this is a Windows Phone 8 only release, and it is a Nokia Lumia exclusive, but for many that will be immaterial. Instagram has arrived.

To put this into perspective, the online photo-sharing service that popularised the idea of filters and fast editing of images on a mobile device was first released on iOS on October 6 2010. It took almost eighteen months for the Android version to be released, which it was on April 3 2012.

While many developers have utilised the Instagram API, and leveraged 'man in the middle' servers to create third party clients on a variety of mobile platforms (including Blackberry and WP), Windows Phone is only the third platform to have an official client release from Instagram.

Instagram for Windows Phone is made up of two parts - the ability to edit pictures, and then to subsequently upload these images to your social network. Note that in this beta version video uploads are not available.

 Instagram BETA Instagram BETA 

Also, there seems to be a big gap in the app's feature list, but it's actually hiding. When you hit the button to take a picture, you'll be presented with your media picker, and not the view from the smartphone camera. If you want to take a picture, you need to hit the camera icon in the menu bar, which launches an instance of the familiar Windows Phone camera interface. This feels the wrong way round compared to other official and unofficial Instagram apps (for example, 6tag does open up the camera directly, and if you want to open the media picker you do it from the picture taking screen).

Once you have an image, you need to get it into the traditional square shape that Instagram loves. Your first step is to zoom and crop the image. With a multitouch screen this is a matter of the pinch gesture, along with sliding the image. When you are satisfied, crop the image and you'll be taken to the effects screen, where all of Instagram's filters are available to choose from. You'll also be able to use an auto=touch up feature, rotate the image, and add a blur/focus effect to do some arty depth of field on your image. From there you can add tags and captions before posting the image.

 Instagram on WP8  Instagram on WP8 

One of Instagram's strengths is that it is its own social network, with a dedicated focus on sharing and talking about images. You have a list of friends you follow, and their images are available to browse through in a time line. From here you can mark images as favourites and leave comments. In addition to this, Instagram can be used to share images to other popular networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr.

 Instagram on WP8  Instagram on WP8

Following in the steps of Twitter and Facebook, the Windows Phone client for Instagram eschews the Windows Phone Design Language and instead replicates the UI found in the iOS and Android clients. This makes for a unified look across the family of apps, but takes away from the feeling of integration with Windows Phone.

This is partially offset by being integrated into the sharing menus of Windows Phone, so you can upload an existing media item when you come across it in the OS. A long press, select the sharing option, and Instagram will open up to let you edit and post the image.

  Instagram BETA Instagram BETA

Here are the main features from the app directory listing:

  • 100% free custom designed filters: XPro-II, Earlybird, Rise, Amaro, Hudson, Lo-fi, Sutro, Toaster, Brannan, Inkwell, Walden, Hefe, Nashville, 1977, and others.
  • Linear and Radial Tilt-Shift blur effects for extra depth of field.
  • Instant sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and Foursquare
  • Unlimited uploads
  • Interact with friends through giving & receiving likes and comments
  • Full front & back camera support
  • And much much more...

Instagram is a free download for Lumia owners, and you can find it via the AAWP App Directory.