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This article was published on February 3, 2012

Instagram is firm on its stance, refusing third party apps upload access

Instagram is firm on its stance, refusing third party apps upload access
Nancy Messieh
Story by

Nancy Messieh

Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]

While there have been rumours that an official Instagram app may hit Windows Phone before Android, any efforts by third party developers appear to be completely unwelcome by the California-based startup.

According to WP Central, Windows developer Bil Simser was working on an Instagram client for the Windows Phone, but hit a significant roadblock that has him stopping development on the app for now.

Simser’s app, along with similar Android alternatives such an Instaroid, can never be fully fledged Instagram clients for two significant reasons. Instagram’s public API does not include upload or sign-up access. In other words, users have to have access to the iOS app to sign up, and while mobile clients, like their web counterparts give users access to user-generated content on Instagram, there is no real opportunity to contribute.

In his blog post Simser writes:

I’ve taken a stance that I want to provide the full user experience on the Windows Phone 7 for existing and new users of Instagram. After all, what’s an API for if you can’t offer an alternative to “official” apps. Unfortunately Instagram has taken the position to not provide upload capabilities in their API at this time. The reason they cite on the developer site (http://instagram.com/developer/endpoints/media/) is they want to “fight spam & low quality photos”. While I don’t agree that not providing an upload API has anything to do with fighting spam and surely iPhone users take crappy pictures too, it is their playground and their rules.

Simser contacted CEO Kevin Systrom himself via email in an attempt to gain access to a more open API, but was told in no uncertain terms that Instagram has no plans to change its stance.

Instagram had a rocky start with third party app developers, with one of the very first to open its doors to users, blocked almost instantaneously. At the time, Systrom explained the move, since Followgram was scraping its content through Instagram’s undocumented and private API endpoints, since a public API had not yet been made available.

While Simser is aware of workarounds to upload photos to Instagram, he’s not willing to go down that path:

I want adoption of this application to be fair. Previous attempts to do an end-round on the Instagram folks just resulted in that application being blocked. If upload and user registration comes to Photogram (or any Windows Phone app for that matter) I want it to be on the up and up through official API access, not some backdoor sneak.

Instagram’s stance of fighting spam or low quality photos simply doesn’t seem to fully address the issue of why a fully-open API has not been made available.

Android users have been waiting for an Android version of the app, and so far have only received hints that it will eventually become a reality. The most significant confirmation came from Systrom in December, when he announced that there is currently a two-man team working on the Android app.

In the case of other similar situations, third party Twitter clients have done nothing but make it easier for users to find the perfect app that suits their personal needs based on their platform.

Instagram is an app that is built entirely around the concept of community – and that is its main strength, which sets it apart from any other competitors. If the experience provided by other developers is up to Instagram’s standards, should they be allowed to allow other mobile users the chance to join the community?

Is Instagram’s stance justified or should it afford developers the same freedoms that Twitter has? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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