You know an app is on its way to going mainstream when a major brand like Starbucks has its own account. There’s simply no denying Instagram‘s popularity. In fact, it looks like the app just got a little bit more popular when Justin Bieber shared an image of LA traffic using Instagram.
Bieber-traffic aside, Instagram already has a user base of over 7 million and the amount of third party apps that have cropped up around the service is impressive. Instagram continues to prove that it is the smartphone photography app to beat.
In no particular order, we’ve put together a list of the many apps and sites available for use with your Instagram account.
Manage your Instagram account
The fact that Instagram has no web interface to speak of is probably one of the main user complaints. Luckily, there are a lot of great alternatives popping up, giving you the opportunity to take advantage of some or all of Instagram’s features in the comfort of your own browser.
Inkstagram gives you the missing web interface that Instagram so desperately needs. You can keep up with photos your friends post, comment on them, and find new people to follow. The interface is divided into four tabs – your feed, your photos, your likes, and popular images on Instagram. In addition to browsing by category, you can also search for specific tags. The display can also be altered to suit your preferences – with the choice of small, medium and large for image sizes.
Pictarine gives you a unique way to browse your own Instagram photos, along with photos from other online services including Flickr, Facebook, Picasa and Twitter. By installing the plugin, you can also download all of your Instagram images to your computer in one go. Another great feature on Pictarine is the ability to create slideshows of your images and share them with other people privately or publicly, even if they don’t use Instagram.
ExtraGram is another site which gives you the means to keep up with your feed, with popular photos and to interact with other users in a browser. Like Inkstagram, it gives you all the features found in the app, along with a cool Discover tab, which displays the hottest tags, a featured user and more.
Webstagram lets you keep up with your feed as well as see the latest popular photos on Instagram. You can search for specific tags, view your own photos, and share the link with others. Webstagram takes it one step further by offering users the opportunity to get featured in their Photo of the Day section. To submit your photos, simply tag them with #Photooftheday. You can also view images on Webstagram as a list or as a grid.
Gramfeed gives you a web interface making it easy to get to all of Instagram’s features in your browser. A cool addition to each user profile in Gramfeed is a map with markers of where all your photos have been taken. With Gramfeed you can view your stream, popular photos, your likes and your own photos. You can also search for photos based on location, username or tag.
Mac users can bring the Instagram experience to their desktop with Carousel, an app that has already received high praise here at The Next Web. The app allows you to interact with other users, comment and like photos, as well as follow and unfollow other users. You can view your own feed, as well as the latest popular photos on Instagram, and you can even drag-and-drop photos to save them to your desktop.
Flipboard makes it easy to keep up with your Instagram stream, and like Instagallery, takes advantage of the iPad’s larger screen. You can view your stream as you would any other source on Flipboard, and you can also add images to your favourites, comment on them, or share them via email or through the social networks you’ve plugged in to Flipboard.
Connect Instagram with other services
Instagram lets you automatically share your photos with other sites including Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. There are a few additional services which aim to enhance or improve that connection.
InstaFB is an easy way to connect Instagram and Facebook in a much more efficient way than what Instagram provides. While connecting your Instagram account to Facebook automatically notifies your friends when you’ve added a new photo to Instagram, it just adds them as a link on your Wall. InstaFB creates a Facebook album and each time you add a new photo to Instagram, the album is automatically updated.
Gramjunction gives you a visually appealing way to display the images that you’ve shared on both Instagram and Flickr. Just enter your Flickr username, and Gramjunction will display them on your personal page, which you can easily share with others.
Instadrop allows you to backup all of your Instagram photos using Dropbox. After connecting the two services, any photos you share on Instagram will be automatically saved to your Dropbox folder in real time.
Connect Instagram to Google+
Since there’s no easy or direct way to do this just yet, Edward Boches came up with a workaround to share your Instagram images with your Google+ followers in real time. It takes a combination of the desktop app Picasa, Dropbox and InstaDrop, and requires that your computer is turned on at all times.
Discover photos and users on Instagram
If you want to discover new users or popular photos without having to use the Instagram app, there are a few gorgeous sites and iPad apps that make it easy to find photographers you’ll want to follow on Instagram.
Insta-Great displays a slideshow of popular photos on Instagram. By signing in, you can also view your timeline and your own photos, and add photos to your favourites.
Heroku allows you to to search Instagram photos, and you can also narrow down your results to photos taken using a specific filter.
Instagallery is a $1.99 iPhone, iPad and iPodTouch app which lets you keep up with your friends’ photos, view your own photos and your favourites. Instagallery really does come to life on the iPad’s larger screen and is a great way to keep up with Instagram on the go, using a larger screen than the iPhone. Not only can you view your own and popular photos, you can also search for specific tags. Photos can be viewed as a grid, or even better yet, as large images making the most out of the iPad’s screen real estate.
Cartagr.am lets you browse Instagram photos based on location. The site can either detect your current location to show you nearby photos, or you can search for a specific location of your choice. You can zoom in and out on the map but there is no way to connect with the photos displayed. You can’t view them on their original Instagram page or find out who took them. That said – it is a pretty cool visual representation of Instagram use around the world.
InstaCat has to be one of the most niche Instagram websites available and it displays photos of only one thing – you guessed it. Cats. So if you’re in need of a cat photo fix, InstaCat is the place to go for a constant slideshow of Instagram cats.
If you’re more of a dog person, InstaPuppy will bring you all the puppy-goodness found on Instagram to your browser. InstaPuppy does also have it’s own kitty sister site, InstaKitty, if the constant scrolling in InstaCat proves to be too much for you.
Instarium is a flash-based screensaver which you can download for your Mac or Windows computer. The screensaver displays a constant reel of Instagram photos. You can set it to view your own photos, your feed, your favourite photos, or even just popular photos. Clicking on images in the website will take you to their Instagram page.
Screenstragram is another screensaver which displays the latest popular Instagram photos, but it is currently a Mac only download, compatible with Snow Leopard and up.
Create an online display of your Instagram photos
If you want to share your images with other users who aren’t on Instagram, there are quite a few free services that let you share your online portfolio with just about anyone.
Instagrid allows you to create a pretty slick online gallery of your Instagram photos. Your photos can be displayed as a grid of small photos, or as a list of large images. Users can subscribe by email to be notified when you add a new photo to Instagram, making it a great way for non-Instagram users to keep up with your latest images.
Make a game out of it
If you want a fun way to browse Instagram photos randomly, there are a couple of sites that turn the experience into a game.
Instawar pits Instagram photos against each other in a little game where two random images are displayed side by side. You can either choose the image that you prefer, or if you think they’re well suited, hit the Make a pair button to create a diptych. You can then submit the paired images to Instawar’s tumblr to share with others.
Pic-a-Fight is similar to Instawar, minus the ability to create a diptych. You can add your own photos into the mix by connecting your Instagram photos. Why would you want to do that? Photos that get the most votes are placed in the Top Pics section, meaning your Instagram photos could get a little bit more attention.
Create products and prints using your Instagram photos
Creating products and prints of your Instagram photos seems to be all the rage and there are a lot of sites offering their services for just that.
Instaprint is one of the coolest ideas we’ve seen emerge as a result of Instagram’s popularity. If you have a special event or party, rent Instaprint’s special Instaprint Box. Each box is associated with a specific location or hashtag, so any photo tagged with either will be automatically printed. Instaprint is kind of like a photobooth and Polaroid camera all rolled into one.
Instagoodies will provide you with a book of 1 inch stickers created using your Instagram photos. Each book can have a maximum of 90 stickers and will cost you $14. Logging in with your Instagram account will let you select the order in which the stickers appear in the book. If you don’t have 90 photos on Instagram, the existing photos will be repeated.
Instamaker will turn your Instagram photos into t-shirts, mugs and postcards. With Instamaker, you can’t use just one image. Any design has to consist of at least a row of 3 images, or more. The site makes it easy to create a mosaic out of your Instagram images and select the product you want it printed on.
Stickygram turns your Instagram photos into fridge magnets. Sign in with Instagram, and you can create a set of 9 little magnets. Unfortunately if you want to use Stickygram, you will have to wait for an invite code since they’ve been inundated with requests.
If you’re looking for a way to print Instagram photos, Printstagram gives you a ton of cool options. You can print a large poster of 50 to 400 of your Instagram photos, you can print mini wallet-sized prints, small stickers, a mini book, or a tiny book.
The name says it all. TeenyTile gives you a way to turn your Instagram photos into a cute little 2 inch ceramic tiles. Import your photos from Instagram and checkout. That’s all there is to it.
Postagram is an iPhone, Android and web-based app which allows you to send your Instagram photos as postcards. Select any of your Instagram photos, add a personalized message, and ship it to the address of your choice.
If the smaller sticker size available from Prinstagram and Instagoodies doesn’t suit your taste, you can use ArtFlakes to order large 4 inch stickers using your Instagram photos.
With Keepsy, you can create a gorgeous book of your Instagram photos. In addition to Instagram, the site also supports Picasa, Flickr, PicPlz and Facebook, as well as the ability to upload photos from your computer. You can drag and drop photos and pages to rearrange them, to get the images in the exact order you want. Keepsy also lets you share the digital version of the book with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
HatchCraft Boo Box
Backup your Instagram photos
Aside from using Instadrop to back up your Instagram photos in the cloud, there are a few services that make it easy to download all of your Instagram photos onto your computer in one go.
Instaport makes it easy to download your Instagram images to a zip file, and a direct export service to Facbook, Flickr and RSS is in the works.
CopyGram works in the same way as Instaport, allowing you to download all of your Instagram images as a zip file, in addition to providing you with an easy-to-remember vanity url with your username.
Get an Instagram Vanity URL
As with any service, it’s pretty cool to have a vanity url which makes it easy to direct friends and followers to your profile page. If you want a vanity URL check out the following examples.
We’ve already mentioned CopyGram as a backup tool for your Instagram photos. Vanity urls with Copygram look like this:
In addition to giving users a Follow Me button to place on their sites, Followgram.me provides vanity urls for Instagram profiles that look like this:
Do you have a favourite Instagram service or site? Let us know about it in the comments.