Six Instagram alternatives

Karissa Bell and Leah Yamshon
10 July, 2012
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App Guide

Some people have been spooked by Facebook’s US$1 billion acquisition of Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service.

The plan seems to be that Instagram will remain a stand-alone service, but changes are always a possibility. Just the notion of Instagram adopting a Facebook-style privacy policy has some users wondering if they should take their photo sharing elsewhere.

Fortunately, Instagram users who are concerned about the app’s future with Facebook have plenty of options to choose from, even beyond Facebook Camera, a free photo-browsing and photo-sharing app launched by the social networking service in May that also offers its own filters.

Several other iOS apps promise mobility, social features and filters and effects of their own. Consider these apps as alternatives to fill the potential Instagram void.







If you like lo-fi filters but want an option that’s not affiliated with Facebook, CameraBag (App Store link) offers vintage camera effects that you can use without any social-networking obligation.

Double-tapping one of 15 available filters reprocesses the photo, sometimes subtly and sometimes dramatically; you can do it several times on each photo for dozens of variations on the original filters.

You can share photos via email and save them to your Camera Roll, so you are free to share your photos as much as you like. You can also interact with other CameraBag users in the CameraBag Flickr Group.







Hipstamatic (App Store link) has been a staple in the App Store for a couple of years now, thanks to its unique take on the vintage camera look and its incredible versatility and controls.

Instead of applying filters, as with other apps, with Hipstamatic you get a variety of lenses, film and flash types to shoot with, which you can augment via in-app purchases.

The app also integrates sharing, both through social networks and with the Hipstamatic community. In addition to sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Flickr, you can interact with other users through contests and shared albums.

Hipstamatic also has its own cloud service for saving prints and a print lab so users can easily order prints of their favourite photos.







If you love filters, Magic Hour (App Store link) is definitely worth looking into.

This app gives you 40 filters to start with, plus access to an in-app Filter Market, where you can download more filters at no additional cost.

Magic Hour also lets you customise your own filters and share them with others through the Filter Market.

Social butterflies will like the way Magic Hour works seamlessly with a bunch of social and sharing platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr and Posterous, to be exact – and also offers easy uploading to Evernote and Dropbox.



East Coast Pixels




If you like easy sharing options but dislike the washed-out vintage look and would prefer higher-quality tools, East Coast Pixels’ PhotoToaster (App Store link) is a solid compromise.

The app focuses on general photo- editing features – you can crop, rotate and flip photos straight from the Tools menu. Start with your basic edits, then choose between three sets of automatic filters: Basic, Supreme and Deluxe.

Each filter set has a handful of specific filters, with Basic yielding the simplest filters and Deluxe housing the most extreme. Once you’ve set your base, you can move on to tweak lighting, edit contrast, add a vignette and choose a complementary border.







Dubbed the ‘Darkroom App’, Autodesk’s Pixlr-o-matic (App Store link) lets you combine photo effects to customise the image in different ways.

Your default film roll comes with 26 different filters to choose from and after you select your base effect, you can pick from 30 different light settings and give it a border. A 99c upgrade promises complete access to a catalogue of effects and overlays.

Pixlr-o-matic stands out for its built-in image-sharing service, imm. io. Each image you publish to gets its own link, which you can share at your leisure. This gives you – the photographer – hands-on control over who sees your photo and how it gets used.



RadiumOne Labs




Since it requires Facebook or Twitter integration to work, (App Store link) from RadiumOne Labs may not be the first choice for users put off by Instagram’s Facebook connection. But for the Twitter- happy crowd, it may be the way to go.

You can follow friends, keep track of everyone’s posts on a centralised feed, explore other users’ profiles and comment on their photos from your iOS device.

Additionally, you can upload video and sound clips – giving this app more of a Tumblr feel, but with Instagram-like features, including 17 filters named after major cities.

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