“The photos you take on Instagram are owned by you,” stressed co-founder Kevin Systrom during a SXSW panel on mobile photography last month, “they’re always going to be owned by you.”
In what can be considered a subtle jab at Facebook, well before any acquisition talks, Systrom underscored one of Instagram’s perceived differentiating benefits: its refreshingly clear terms of service that claim no ownership rights to the content shared on its platform – “perceived” because, in reality, Instagram’s image rights closely resembles those of Facebook, although the latter’s remain less clear.
Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
I think it’s worth putting into context here the relative volume of photos of the two social networks: Facebook has 170 billion photos – the largest online repository of photos in history – while Instagram has 500 million with 60-90 uploaded per second worldwide.
So while dumping Instagram for another photo sharing app may not solve your privacy issues, the new relationship has been enough for many users to delete their profiles and switch to alternatives out of privacy concerns. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists that Instagram will develop independently, his company’s murky track record with user data has some Instagram lovers assuming the worst. Will Zuck run facial recognition on your hip, Sierra filtered images? Will you have to use a Facebook log-in to access you Instagram account? Will Facebook’s social graph absorb your historical geo-tagging data from Instagram?
The good thing is that if you are looking for alternatives, you will find no shortage of them. Instagram has been merely a front-runner in a robust and burgeoning app category (industry?) where there’s now officially a photo-sharing app for everything.
Here are four photo-sharing apps that will help you fill the void in your life if or when you choose to abandon your well-documented Instalife.
Camera+ is not simply just another photo-sharing app for the iPhone (4 stars). No, Camera+ is a camera replacement app for times when you need to do more than simply slap a Valencia filter on an image of your dog. The app, available for $1.99 in the App Store, features an impressive number of modes and effects including a lock focus, stabilizer mode, and a burst feature that let’s you continuously take photos as you hold down the camera button. And, of course, there are filters: 36 of them! While you can link to your external accounts like Facebook and Twitter to share photos, Camera+ lacks its own social network functionality.
PicPlz allayed my Instagram-envy when I owned a Droid X. Interestingly enough, PicPlz launched before Instagram as an app to make sharing mobile photos as streamlined and as seamless as possible (both are also funded by Andreessen-Horowitz). The app only added filters after it was clear that the market wanted it. Available on both iPhone (4 stars) and Android (4 stars), PicPlz creates a web profile for each of its users, captures how many views each posted photos receives, and can instantly back up original, unfiltered copies of photos to Dropbox – all features that help PicPlz differentiate itself from Instagram.
Hipstamatic, named 2010 app of the year by Apple, has long been mentioned as a front-runner in the photo-sharing app category alongside Instagram (an interesting post on why Hipstamatic is not a $1 billion company here). Also only available on iPhone (4 stars), Hispamatic describes itself as an app that returns the “beloved look, feel, and unpredictable beauty of toy cameras” to mobile photography with a fun faux-analog interface. But while Hipstamatic users create images that appear similar to Instagrams, that’s where the similarities end. Although Hipstamic was first to market with the filter effect, it purposefully chose not to pursue becoming a network and instead focused on monetization through app sales, extra features and advertising. Oddly enough, Hipstamatic announced a partnership with Instagram just two weeks before the Facebook acquisition, allowing its users to port their photos directly into Instagram’s network, the first time a third-party received access to the Instagram API. Hisptamatic costs $1.99 to download and also offers HipstaPacks with additional features starting at $0.99.
EyeEm is a free “sharing & discovery” app, available on both iPhone (4 ½ star) and Android (4 star), that connects you with like-minded people through the photos you take. Among EyeEm’s advantage over Instagram are features that help users find photos that interest them. Users can subscribe to themed albums like “Bikes,” “Geometry,” and “Dancing” and can add tags for events, locations, and other interests. EyeEm also provides a live filter that allows a user to see what their edited photo will look like before the snap it. EyeEm’s community is obviously not as big as Instagram’s, but downloads and installs have picked up significantly in the last 30 days. For now, EyeEm bests Instagram in its ability to curate interesting photos for users, but Instagram has made it known that this is a functionality they’re developing.
Of course, the list of alternatives doesn’t stop here. There’s a rapidly growing market of apps that capture and share mobile photos in unique and creative ways – check out Hipster, LightBox, Cinemagram, Plxr-O-Matic, Retro Camera, Popset, and others.
And if your first priority is deleting your Instagram account before considering alternatives, there are apps for that too like Instaport, Copygram, and InstaBackup (coming soon to the Mac App Store).
What other mobile photography apps do you use? Has the Facebook acquisition changed your Instagram habits? Let us know in the comments below.