I use my iPad for practically everything digital. When I’m testing apps, if they are universal, chances are I’ll test them on my iPad first. I just like the larger sized screen. One app that is sorely lacking in iPad optimization is Instagram. The company that launched a billion selfies does not consider the iPad fit for consumption. So, the world is relegated to third-party clients.
Flow for Instagram is, as far as I know, the first Instagram-related iPad app that has been designed from the top-down with iOS 7 in mind. Frankly, it looks a lot better than the official iPhone app…
If you have ever used 500px, you will see a striking similarity between that app and Flow’s design. Your feed is displayed as a grid of pictures laid out across a black background. The menu section is hidden off to the left and can be accessed by pulling the screen from left to right when you are right at the edge.
When you tap a picture, it will take center stage on your iPad screen while everything else blurs into the background. The selected picture also shows the poster, the quote and hashtags, others who have favorite it, and comments. In this window, you can also Like a picture by tapping the heart and add a comment.
When you tap the comment box, it will pop out to the center of the screen while the rest blurs into the background. When you are done commenting, the picture will reappear. When you want to go back to your feed, tap outside of the picture’s window and it will float downward off screen, showing your feed again.
In the menu section, you can access your feed, pictures you have liked, hashtags, users, and locations you have bookmarked, top charts, and the search bar. You can also review the tutorial and adjust a few settings options. Tap the profile icon at the top left corner of the screen to go back to your personal feed.
Once you have logged into Instagram through Flow, your feed will appear with a grid of 12 pictures on one page. To access more images, swipe from right to left. You can swipe across hundreds of pictures without having too much of a load time issue. On my iPad Air, they loaded within seconds.
To refresh your feed, drag your finger to pull from the center of the screen towards the right. From one test I performed to refresh my feed, it didn’t work. I had to exit the app and reopen it to see new pictures. I tried several times over a 15-minute period and although I would see the “refreshing animation,” it never refreshed. (note: the developer informed us that the app will be updated as soon as iTunes Connect reopens after Christmas)
If you want to get a closer look at a picture, or access social networking features, tap it. When the picture window pops up, you can find out who took it, what they said about it, who favorited it, and what was said about it. Tap the heart to add it to your favorites list. Tap the comment box to add your own two cents.
You can also directly share any picture on Facebook and Twitter, send it through email, or save it to your camera roll. If someone took a particularly stunning picture of you, it is easy to save it and use it for your own purposes.
Videos work in Flow, too. Just tap on one and it will automatically play for you. If you would rather be in charge of when the video starts, you can turn off automatic video playback in the Settings section.
If you see a username you want to know more about, you can “peak” at their profile by taping their profile icon. This will bring up a small window that shows the person’s Instagram account name, username, and a short sampling of their pictures. This feature is very useful. I tapped on a profile name that I didn’t recognize, just to try it out and it turned out to be a friend of mine that I didn’t know had an Instagram account and I was able to follow him. Being able to “peak” at a profile is much more convenient than leaving your feed to view a profile.
This is, by far, the best-looking Instagram client for the iPad that I’ve ever used. I’ve been hooked on Pictacular for a long time, mostly because I like that it looks like a Pinterest feed. However, the time for change has been long overdue and this app looks fantastic on the 9.7-inch screen.
Plus, you have total access over many of the options available to you through the official app. You can’t post pictures to Instagram with this app, but you can favorite them, comment on them, bookmark them, and share them through a number of ways.
There are a few minor bugs to work out. For example, my feed did not refresh properly. I had to close and reopen the app to see a new picture. Additionally, in the section of a picture where you are supposed to be able to see all of the people who “Liked” a photo, sometimes you can only see four profiles. When you select the number, indicating that there are additional “likers,” in some cases, no additional profiles show up.
It does not support portrait mode.
The best part about Flow for Instagram is that it is free. There is no advertisement support and no in-app purchase to unlock the good stuff. It is totally free.
If you own an iPad and you have an Instagram account, you should absolutely download this third party client. It looks great, runs smoothly, loads fast, and only has a few minor bugs to squash, which will probably happen with the next update. This app is high on my list of favorite apps to have come out in 2013. Download it in the App Store today.
Padgram is a very popular Instagram app for iPad. Pictacular is a third-party client that displays your Instagram feed like Pinterest. MyPad+ is a social networking client that lets you view Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on your iPad.
What do you think of Flow? Do you think you would use it on your iPad?