Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Instagram Replacement Apps For The IPhone & iOS

I'm probably not the only one who deleted their Instagram account in protest (and disgust) over the recent user agreement changes that allowed Instagram to sell your photos to third parties without your knowledge and/or providing any compensation.

But many of us have come to love the retro aesthetic that Instagram provided with it's easy-to-use filters. We've also come to love how simple it was to upload photos to multiple services with a single click.

So, what will I will be replacing Instagram with? Read on past the jump to find out.

The Search

I spent lots of time last night going through my various photo editing apps on my iPhone looking for something that worked similar to Instagram. While nothing worked quite as simply and quickly as Instagram (I really loved the Instagram filters and that is the part I will miss most about the app) I did find some apps I fell will do a good job picking up the Instagram mantle on my iPhone.

My picks for an Instagram replacement are below. I've broken them down into editing/filtering and uploading/posting.

(Disclosure: The app links below are affiliate links which means we get a small amount of revenue if you choose to use them.)


Edited/filtered in the Snapseed iPhone app.

Snapseed (Free) - Some of the most unique user interfaces and most powerful filtering I've experienced. I love Snapseed. Now(a bit ironically) after its purchase by Google called Google+ Snapseed.

Although I used and loved Snapseed before Google bought them. Hopefully they won't mess up its great functionality by cramming Google+ into it. Well worth the time learn how to use.

(Bonus Tip: In the Retrolux section of Snapseed hit the "shuffle" icon to shuffle through a bunch and the "star" icon to pick them one by one. You can also shuffle a particular starred (favorite?) looks elements.)

Edited/filtered in the Camera Awesome iPhone app.

Camera Awesome (Free) - This app has some really nice filtering if you take the time to get used to the app. The filters in this app are very good. Also, about the only app I'll take photos with live filters applied to them. Normally I always shoot first and filter later.

This app is also created by a photo sharing site, SmugMug, but actually doesn't get in your way. They let you simply use it as a photo editing/filtering app without ever having to do anything with SmugMug's site. This is good because I don't really need another photo sharing site.

Edited/filtered in the Fotor iPhone app.

Fotor™ ($2.99) - Fotor is an app I have an on-again off-again relationship with. While I'm not a particular fan of its "one-thing-at-a-time" user interface it does have some great filtering options if you play around with it. It also has a great HDR option which I recommend.

Edited/filtered in the Camera+ iPhone app.

Camera+ ($0.99) -  This is one of my favorite camera apps and the filters are quite expressive. You don't have to take the photos in Camera+ to filter them but I've had some of my most interesting experiences with filters with Camera+.


Photo Editor by Aviary (Free) - I really loved (and miss) Instagram's ability to upload my photos with one click to Facebook, Instagram (not important anymore), Flicker and Twitter. This is all I really want out of an app like this. Aviary (while I'm not sure if that is the official title it's what i like to call it) has this down pat.

I open the app it, shows me the latest photo in my photo roll (usually the photo I've finished editing/filtering in another app and saved it out to my camera roll), give it a title and in a few taps it is uploaded/posted to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr all at once.

While Aviary does have filters (Aviary also powers the Flickr app and Twitter app filters) I found them to be a bit too harsh and lacked the ability to tone down the effects. One of the things I liked about Instagram's filters was that they were, for the most part, quite subtle.


So now you have a few choices for apps you can use to fill that Instagram-shaped hole in your app collection.

If you aren't really *that* picky about the filters I'd recommend starting with Photo Editor by Aviary. It has filters (although not my favorite) and very easy uploading/posting. (Plus it's free.)

If you want to get more advanced in filters I'd recommend trying Snapseed. Its "Retrolux" set of filters can easily create some very neat looking retro photos.

We will all move on from Instagram and it's terrible business decisions. I have little doubt that some day Instagram will feel to us then like MySpace does to us now: irrelevant. A victim of forgetting that users built up your service and are the most important thing for your survival.

UPDATE: Just wanted to add a bit of an update. Having continued to use the various choices above I have also been very happy with the Flickr app. It not only has great filters but as an 8-year user of Flickr it has renewed my appreciation for Flickr as a whole.


  1. Try Digiback as an alternative to Instagram - and others (http://digiback.me/get). You'll be happy.