There's really barely a reason to explain what Instagram is. But for the sake of ex-troglodytes who've recently put their hands on the so indispensable smartphone everyone carries around, I'll do it.
Social media platforms can focus on different types of content. If you'd count YouTube as such, you might say that it focuses on video content and responses. The very popular Facebook clearly focuses on exposing your every thought and Twitter does well to transmit half sentences. Instagram on the other hand is perfect for quick sharing pictures (and video).
The main feed is very simplistic, showing the author, picture and a number of hash tags nobody cares to check out. You can bookmark the pictures, like them, give a short comment and share them with other Instagram contacts.
Instagram has an integrated camera feature. So sharing your creations is very straightforward. Besides the "Normal" mode, "Boomerang" uses the photo camera to take pictures in rapid succession and then assemble them into a short gif-like video. "Handsfree" mode records a short timed video while "Live" mode starts a live video feed. If you're popular enough that last option might be quite the promotion vehicle.
Shots and recordings can be edited on the spot before being shared. You may use three different pen types to draw, add in text or put stamps on either photos or videos. I found no sign of that famous Instagram filter everybody is aware of. Well, maybe it's applied automatically, but I thought you'd at least be able to make some manual adjustments to things like color levels or saturation. But maybe it's just my lack of experience with Instagram that prevented me to find these features.
Although a picture is said to be worth a thousand word, there still is a messaging service. You can write messages and attach media just like with any online messenger. What was interesting to read about was that Instagram also supports sharing temporary videos and pictures called "Direct". I could not figure out how. Well maybe because I id not complete my profile, but I'm not going to. They already have my e-mail address and I'm not going to share more than that. Besides, the list of permissions Instagram requires is staggering.
- Edit and share photos and video
- Share live video
- Share disappearing content
- Discover and watch what others have shared
I personally don't see Instagram as anything more than another distraction tool. yes it might be interesting to explore a network full of new people, but at the end of the day nothing beats face to face conversations, or even snail mail for that matter.