Updated with love annually since 2018…
Despite Meta’s best efforts to tank it, Instagram has remained a population destination away from Facebook and Twitter. There’s something about the constraints of mostly photo and video sharing that just feels healthier. Instagram is also an twelve-year-old iPhone app — it launched the same year as the iPad. As 2023 rolls in, the refusal to make an iPad version that isn’t just the web remains a head scratcher.
Instagram made iPad apps
It makes so much sense. Instagram is fantastic for sharing our favorite photos and videos, and iPads are wonderful for appreciating both. Instagram Stories are even delightful (despite being ripped off from Snapchat). And IGTV was a dud, but a tablet version would have been neat if it wasn’t!
Facebook and Instagram know the iPad exists. Facebook does a semi-okay job or supporting Facebook and Messenger on the iPad, and Instagram even made two iPad camera apps — Hyperlapse and Boomerang — just not, you know, the main app.
(Instagram’s Layout app is also really nice. I see a lot of people use free, ad-supported alternatives with watermarks over the collage. Switch to Layout even if you don’t want to post to Instagram.)
Instagram killed iPad apps
The lack of a dedicated Instagram for iPad app used to be an opportunity for developers.
Good times, Instagram API, good times
Retro for Instagram was a great solution, for example, but Instagram changed its API that gave developers access to the service in their apps. Instagram killed the market for iPad app alternatives without making its own.
Web apps aren’t apps
One argument is that the “progressive web app” on Instagram’s website is good enough if you save it to your Home screen. It’s okay, but native apps can simply do more.
You can also run the iPhone version in a comically letterboxed window or scale it up at the cost of resolution fidelity, but there’s no landscape support and many iPads are attached to keyboards now. [Update: iPadOS 15 makes Instagram (and other iPhone-only apps) a little less frustrating]
This, but as a real app, would be better than what we have now
There’s a better way
Another argument against Instagram for iPad is that it’s a legacy technology problem: the quality of photos may be too low to properly present on a tablet display. I don’t know, that might be a legacy argument now. So much time has passed…
If so, that’s a problem that could easily be designed around! Instagram could ship a grid of photos and even mix ads in between! Bigger screen, more ads! That’s my best pitch to Instagram.
This awesome concept by Parker Ortolani is another excellent example of how Instagram could adapt its iPhone app for the iPad without losing visual fidelity on the big screen. I would love to sit and browse photos and videos on Instagram for iPad in a dense layout with native resolution like that.
I don’t think there’s any hope for the Gotham filter returning, but I’m optimistic that Instagram for iPad has to be around the corner. Now that video and messaging and Stories and group video calling and walkie-talkie and hundreds of other features are now available thanks to Instagram’s decision to aggressively compete with Snapchat, Instagram for iPad has to be next on the list, right? Maybe? Hopefully…
Things Instagram has done last year instead of making an iPad app
And I bet they haven’t even started working on the Apple mixed reality headset version of Instagram…
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