The popular photography app Instagram was recently released for Android. Previously it had only been available for iPhone, so I decided to give it a try.
Instagram is similar to another highly popular app called Hipstamatic. The idea is that you take a photo, crop it into square format and apply a filter that makes the photo look "vintage" or "retro". The analog-world counterpart of these apps is often called Lomography, after the cheap Soviet Russian camera Lomo LC-A. Why would anyone want to have their photos artificially aged? Others have discussed this elsewhere, so see, for example, this study or this essay.
Instagram is very intuitive to use: snap a photo, select a filter, write a caption, upload. You apparently cannot save any photos to your device: if you want to keep a photo you must upload it into the service. So Instagram is not only an app but also a service that hosts your photos. You can also find you friends there and subscribe to their feeds to get their latest photos on the main screen of the app. Or you can just browse the most interesting photos from all users.
There's something in Instagram that appeals to me. It sort of fills a need that I didn't know was there. To Flickr, I only try to upload my best and technically flawless photos. To Facebook I upload photos of events with my friends. But to Instagram I can upload any random photos. It couldn't be easier and you always have the camera (your smartphone) with you. Some people are into taking a photo every day, and I think Instagram is quite perfect for this kind of a project. In fact, I'm going to try it! Instagram doesn't have its own web interface for browsing the photos but an external service called Webstagram fills that void; see my photostream here.
Coincidentally, about five hours ago (as of writing this post) Facebook announced that it is going to buy Instagram for 1 billion USD. The figure is ridiculously large and I believe Facebook is never going to get their money back from that purchase, but hey, if they happened to have an extra billion lying around then why not buy Instagram with it. Molly Wood from CNET also questions the price tag, and some people believe that Facebook will now ruin Instagram, although Mashable's Chris Taylor says Facebook could actually improve Instagram. What happens, remains to be seen, but I'm not too concerned.