Instagram is without a doubt one of my favorite iPhone photo apps, incorporating fun filters and social sharing. And I’m hardly alone, as just before Christmas, the wildly popular service hit 1 million users. While we patiently wait for a web interface, some of us haven’t been so patient…
In January, South African based developer Herman Schutte launched Followgram, which allowed users to receive an RSS feed of their Instagram photos and share their profile with others. Followgram didn’t last very long. Not only did its servers crash after I wrote about them, but the next day the site was blocked by Instagram because it was scraping its content through Instagram’s undocumented and private API endpoints. Essentially, Instagram’s private API is constantly changing and isn’t stabile enough for third party developers to use.
Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom explained his decision to block Followgram on Quora:
I want to say, before anything else, that we are absolutely 100% behind supporting developers that want to build on top of Instagram… soon. We’re currently working on our first release of an API…There’s clearly a lot of excitement behind building things for Instagram, and I only wish that we could have an API out today, but unfortunately it’s harder than simply flipping a switch…
Fast forward 6 weeks and Schutte is at it again. This time with Snapfinch, which is a slicker, hipper looking site than Followgram with a definitive aesthetic appeal for Instagram users. Schutte published the site today writing that, “It allows people to search for photos across multiple social photo sharing services.”
Mmmm multiple? Not so much. Aside from a couple results from Snapr, a location based photo sharing app, the pictures I found were all from Instagram. So is Schutte at it again, irresponsibly scraping Instagram’s private API? No, he is using the publicly available RSS feed for tags from Instagram and the API’s from Snapr and Steply. He will soon be adding support for PicPlz and Burstn.
Are his efforts in vain? Maybe. We have good faith that it won’t be too much longer before either Instagram pushes out a public API or launches a web interface of its own.