Instagram alternatives

Posted on Categories instagram, iPhone

In my previous post I hinted at quitting Instagram – the photo sharing app that I’ve been using since autumn last year (see my Hello Again from early October 2011). I won’t get into the ‘why’ here, if you’re interested you can read all about that on my regular blog, in this post.

But since I’m quitting, I needed … well, wanted is a better word – I wasn’t addicted or anything (ahum ;-) … a replacement app. So I searched the internet, and found the following set of apps. Note that there are quite a few more, but since I do not own an Android phone or Windows phone and don’t use my Symbian phone anymore, I could only test those that have an iPhone version.

Photo sharing apps

Since these apps all have various pros and cons, I found it quite difficult to choose the best one, so I examined them all, and made a list of the different aspects. Note, that one person’s con can be another one’s pro, and the below is merely my personal opinion.

Eye Em feed page

Eye Em popular page


App for: iPhone and Android
Tags: yes, but only on first upload. They are called ‘albums’.
Filters: yes, but nothing useful. Borders are optional, and independent from filters.
Dimensions: any
Connects to: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare
Web view: yes, see for example the album “sky”:


  • looks good, dark grey/black backgrounds
  • popular page actually shows nice photos


  • ugly filters
  • tags are replaced by albums, and after you have uploaded a photo, there is no way to add it into another album.
  • the order of comments below photos is upside down. (newest comments on top)


  • has an ‘around you’ option, which lets you see other people’s photos based on where you are. Not sure yet if I find that creepy, or interesting. For now I’m going with creepy, but your miles may vary. (you can post photos without revealing your location, so you can opt out that way of course).
  • allows changing of username
  • you can share anyone’s photo via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and email, and also flag it.

Flickr feed page

Flickr photo stream page


App for: iPhone, Android and Windows Phone
Tags: yes
Filters: no
Dimensions: any
Connects to: Flickr
Web view: yes


  • easy to use
  • shows how many views you had on an image
  • shows comments in correct chronological order, together with name and date. Basically it gives you pretty much the same information as on the website, which I think is good.


  • a little bit slow in retrieving ‘recent’ photos from your friends
  • not much influence on the size of the image you are posting. There are two options: medium and full resolution. Only there is no way to set how large ‘medium’ is, and my little tulips photo was uploaded in 1024×1024, which I find way too large. I’d rather have a 700px max width set. One can circumvent this by resizing the image before uploading, but that’s just another step to take between taking the pic, editing and uploading.


  • Flickr is just a mobile app that lets you post your photos to your own Flickr account. Its community is not based on the mobile app.

Hipster global page

Hipster postcard


App for: iPhone and Android
Tags: none, although you can edit the label, which means the text that is ‘printed’ on the postcard.
Filters: yes, but they include text styles and positioning, and are called ‘themes’ rather than filters.
Dimensions: landscape format.
Connects to: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr
Web view: yes.


  • nice if you want to upload digital postcards of places you are visiting.


  • insists on first and last name on sign up.
  • insists on letting it know your location. If you don’t allow the app to access your location, the ‘wait’ gif keeps going forever, and you’ll never get the photo labelled or uploaded. There is an option to “don’t show on map”, but it still wants your location regardless of that setting.


  • to me, this is really not a photo sharing app. It’s a postcard sharing app in which location is the most important thing. You don’t use this app to share photos you take at home, unless you want to broadcast where you live. I’ll keep it for when I’m on holiday and want to send my family a postcard by email.

PicPlz popular page

PicPlz comments page


App for: iPhone and Android
Tags: no
Filters: yes
Dimensions: any
Connects to: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare, Dropbox and Mixi
Web view: yes, see the main page, which shows the same ‘interesting’ feed as the app:
You can also see photos based on location, such as Amsterdam:


  • shows comments in correct chronological order
  • shows number of views, in addition to number of likes and comments
  • you can choose to save the original and/or the filtered version
  • some interesting filters
  • you can choose to not publish your pics to the global or ‘interesting’ feed.


  • shows comments and likes together in one long list, Tumblr style.
  • shows all collections a photo belongs to above the list of likes and comments.
  • no tags option at all


  • you can make collections of photos, which include other people’s photos as well as your own

PicYou popular page

PicYou feed page


App for: iPhone only
Tags: yes
Filters: yes, but nothing useful. Borders can be switched on and off, but each filter has its own border, like Instagram.
Dimensions: square only
Connects to: Facebook and Twitter
Web view: yes


  • looks and works a lot like Instagram (yes, that’s a pro!)
  • uses proper tagging
  • popular page has 3 sections: photos, users and tags


  • popular page shows a lot of photos of weed. None of the other apps seem to have that problem, so I wonder what it is that attracts weed smokers to PicYou.
  • judging by the popular page on the website, most people on PicYou seem to be teens looking to get more likes from their peers, not really interested in photography per se. So, you may need a bit more effort and patience to build up a photography centered feed than on Instagram.
  • if you decide to connect to your Twitter account, one of the permissions you are giving PicYou, is accessing your direct messages. In my opinion, that’s an unnecessary privacy violation.


  • you can get to the popular page with only 3 likes and 0 comments. No idea how that works.
    This could be a bug in the app, as the website’s selection of photos does indeed list them in order of most likes:
  • it looks like you can’t search for users by username, but if you use the general search and put in a username, it will return the photos that person took, so you can find them that way.
  • you can share anyone’s photo via Facebook, Twitter, and email, as well as copy the URL and report the image.

Streamzoo streams page

Streamzoo badge page


App for: iPhone and Android
Tags: yes, they are organized into ‘streams’
Filters: yes, a nice set with extra editing options like hue, saturation, brightness and contrast, plus tiltshift and a variety of borders. Borders can be used independently of filters.
Dimensions: any, but result is fitted in a square in the app
Connects to: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr
Web view: yes


  • you can build your feed from friends and tags, making it easy for example to find photos of particular subjects, even if you don’t have any people in your friends list yet.
  • you can edit title and description (including tags) after uploading – no need to add comments on your own photos only to add more tags.
  • each photo has an ‘i’ icon, and clicking it gives you information about what device was used to upload the photo, as well as what filter was used.
  • you can block people
  • saves edited image to Camera roll before uploading.


  • the order of comments below photos is upside down. (newest comments on top)
  • community seems to be based around winning badges. By uploading my first photo, I got the ‘newbie’ badge. The number of badges someone receives is listed along with number of followers and followings and photos.


  • photos can be uploaded from the computer as well (once you have at least 1 upload and 5 followers)
  • videos can be uploaded too, although there is no way to add filters to those

Tadaa 6 column photo page

Tadaa profile page


App for: iPhone only
Tags: none whatsoever
Filters: yes, with separate filters, borders, tilt shift and sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation and hd clarity.
Dimensions: any
Connects to: Facebook, Facebook albums, and Twitter
Web view: yes, but very limited.


  • the main page is two screens wide, and shows 6 columns of images. These columns are ‘trending’, ‘featured’, ‘kraftwerk’, ‘challenge’, ’24h charts’ and ‘new users’. Each column scrolls up and down independently from the others, and I think it’s far more informative than most apps’ popular pages.
  • you can block people, who then can not follow you, like, or comment on your photos.


  • no tags at all
  • while scrolling through someone’s photos, you need to click each photo before you see the information. Since this information also includes whether or not a photo is a repost from someone else, or an original photo by the person whose photos you’re browsing, I think this is a bad thing.You can also scroll through someone’s photos in smaller format, which does give more information, but only 3 lines of the description, and quite a small photo.


  • Tadaa uses some kind of rating system that I don’t understand. For example, I uploaded 2 photos, got 1 like on one, and 12 on the other, and now have a “226T” rating, whatever that means. Since the rating is shown in shiny gold, and the ‘T’ looks like a currency symbol, one would guess that you can buy things with it somehow, but it’s not clear how or what or even why.
  • The notifications of new likes and comments are quit intrusive (include sound!), but there is the option to set quiet hours, in which you won’t be disturbed by them.
  • you can repost other people’s photos, and send photo replies.

So, which did I choose? I was close to getting EyeEm, due to the quality of photos on it, but with a lack of tags and not being able to add photos into another album after upload, this one isn’t for me. Another one that I seriously considered, was PicYou. But after a few days of browsing, there is still such a low percentage of people who take nice photographs on it, plus a high percentage of pics of teens, weed, and nudity (not the tasteful artsy kind), that I wouldn’t feel ‘at home’ in that app.

I’ve decided to go with Streamzoo. It may not be the best looking app, and I really don’t like to read comments in the upside down order (fine for loose comments, but it doesn’t encourage conversation), but it has the same kind of people and photos on it as Instagram (a wide variety of styles and characters), and I like the editing options, the fact that you can tag and edit your tags and titles.