Instagram is an extremely popular photo sharing and social media network. It can be accessed via an application installed on an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android camera phone. The application was originally developed by Burbn, Inc. but has been developed and popularized by Facebook, another social media conglomerate. The Instagram application allows users to take and edit distinctive photos and then share them both within the application itself and on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. Photos can also be shared via email from within the application. Much like other social networks, when a user creates an Instagram account, other users of the service can follow them. Users can also comment on and selectively like the photos of the people they follow as well as random photos from service users.
The process of using the Instagram application is, in itself, very simple. For users working with an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, installing the Instagram app is as simple as going to the App Store application on the device and searching for Instagram. The application is a free download for users. For Android camera phone users, the application is also free and is distributed via the Google Play service. Once the user opts to download the application, it will automatically begin to install. This process can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on whether home WiFi or mobile broadband is being used. When the installation is complete, the Instagram icon will be plainly visible on the screen of the device.
Learning how to use Instagram is a very simple and straightforward process. The user must begin by opening the application. When using the application for the first time, the user will be prompted to create an Instagram account. After doing so, they will have access to all features of the application. The main window features five icons at the lower portion of the screen. The first icon is the home page, a timeline of photos taken and posted by individuals that the user is following. This is the page that will open by default on first use. The second icon is for exploring other users of the service, and is indicated by an eight pointed star graphic. This allows the user to see popular photos taken by other users. The third icon is the camera feature, indicated by a camera icon, which will be explained momentarily. The fourth is the notification icon, indicated by a dialogue bubble containing a heart. This allows the user to see activity related to their account. Finally, the last icon, indicated by a postcard graphic, is the user’s profile. This includes photos they have taken and posted.
The primary part of learning how Instagram works is learning the use of the camera. One unique feature of this application is that it takes square photos, similar to those taken by old Polaroid cameras. To begin using the camera, the user must click on the camera icon. This will take them to a screen where they can see a display of the shot they want to take. The display can be reversed for self photography and flash can be turned on or off. Once the user takes a photo, they are given a number of editing options, including filters, framing, rotation, brightness and contrast. When the image is edited to their satisfaction, they are given the option of sharing it on Instagram as well as a variety of other social networks.