Instagram clamping down on apps that read feeds, offer auto-following, liking or commenting

By , Nov 18, 2015

Instagram 7.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 001

As part of Instagram’s most recent platform update, third-party applications will be no longer allowed to present a user’s Instagram feed, a significant change in policy that’ll affect numerous mobile applications which pull Instagram feeds.

Going forward, they’ll be shutting down services and apps that offer auto-following, liking or commenting.

Photo-editing apps that show only individual Instagram photos won’t be affected by this change. All apps must comply by June 1, 2016. The new policies and reviews will go into effect for new apps starting December 3, 2015.

Your favorite apps are affected

Apps like Retro, Flow, Pangram and Pictacular for iPad; Webbygram, Webstagram, Photoflow, Instagreat and Itsdagram for desktop; and ones like Tangram for the Apple TV are all affected by Instagram’s announcement.

This development is especially concerning given Instagram lacks its own iPad app.

Additionally, Instagram is launching a new Sandbox mode which permits developers to privately build and test their apps using Instagram’s APIs as their software is being reviewed.

Apps created on or after November 17, 2015 can take advantage of Sandbox mode right away and those created before this date will only be able to use Sandbox mode after June 2016, but can still start submitting for review. In June 2016, any Instagram app that has not been reviewed and approved will be set to Sandbox mode automatically.

What now?

While Instagram argues that the changes are meant to give users a more cohesive and consistent experience across mobile apps and platforms, it’s hard to escape the notion that the company is actually forcing users to its own mobile app, where they can be monetized with various forms of advertising.

According to the team, even the most popular Instagram client has 0.5% or fewer monthly active users versus Instagram’s 400 million user base, or around two million.

“Shutting them off won’t win Instagram many more ad views anyways,” opined TechCrunch. “Our goal is to provide a focused set of terms and processes that give clarity to the use cases we will support going forward,” reads Instagram’s blog post.

“While this may require changes from many of you, we believe these changes will help maintain control for the community and provide a clear roadmap for developers.”

Doubling down on advertising

Instagram has been experimenting with brand ads for quite some time now and recently began toying with interactive ads that integrate with Apple’s Force Touch, Apple Pay and In-App Purchase technologies, allowing users to buy advertised products with a tap.

Source: Instagram

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  • They could start by updating that freaking icon and make a great app for the iPad.

    • TwinSon

      An Ipad dedicated App seems like a no brainer by now. And a new icon.

      • To think about the icon is bold, like asking too much.

      • Blip dude

        Ayeris got it right with the icon. Perhaps Instagram should really look into that when changing their icon. It’s so Out of place post-iOS 7, I almost wanna delete it.

      • You understand my feelings. Instagram now walks towards a consequence. If the app won’t get better, people will get tired of the service, and about times like these, people won’t treat them different.

  • Stephaughn Alston

    I’m pretty sure their really making this move because of the 3rd party Instagram app that was hashing everyone’s usernames & passwords.

  • jakeopp

    Instagram sucks. It’s 2015, what ‘social network’ doesn’t have a freaking iPad app?

  • Lilly Stutter

    They have reasons to avoid making an ipad version, but it could be a discussion for a dedicated topic. Too bad they shut down the api, many nice apps will be obsolete. But still, there will always be other apps that login directly to instagram like Zengram. Of course, some people are afraid to login to some third-party websites, but i don’t really see the point of stealing accounts, so i use it anyways.