iPhone App Shootout: Instagram vs. PicPlz

When you take a photo with your smartphone there are almost too many places where you can share it with your friends. From Facebook, Twitter and Google+ on the general social networking side to dedicated photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa, getting your snaps out into the wide world is very easy.

However, iPhone owners have a few other options in the form of Instagram and PicPlz, two smartphone-specific photo sharing apps with some clever tweaks. The pair link into your iPhone’s camera so you don’t have to open a separate app when you want to take a picture, however you can import pictures already stored in your Gallery if you want to share an existing snap.

Both apps link into their own photo-sharing social networks and allow users to follow other people, as well as ‘like’ and comment on individual images. Uploaded photos can also be shared on other services, such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr too.

So far, so similar to all the other photo sharing services out there; so why should you download these particular applications, and which is the best for you? To find out, we’re going to take a closer look at the apps and their unique features, starting with Instagram.

Instagram

This application is iPhone specific, meaning it’s not available on any other platform and that all pictures shared were taken with an iPhone. Bear this in mind when you read the following statistics: more than 150 million photos uploaded, more than 7 million users and a new image shared every 15 seconds. Oh, and they’ve only existed for 11 months.

You’ll have guessed then, that Instagram is hugely popular, and it’s partly because of the filters included. If you’re a newcomer to this type of app, each photo snapped in Instagram can have a filter applied to it, in order to change its look and style.

There are 16 filters included here, with names such as Earlybird, Sutro, Lomo-fi, Inkwell and 1977, all of which adjust the colouration, saturation, contrast and other aspects of the image; and when used correctly can make your picture unique.

In addition to the filters, all pictures can be rotated, and a border can be used to frame your filtered images. The final tweak comes from a tilt-shift blur, either horizontal or circular, to add extra depth of field. Once your done editing the picture, you can add a comment, a geo-tag and share it.

But the actual picture sharing is only part of the app, as there is a stream of images from all the people you follow to look through too. Any comments and ‘likes’ are also shown, plus you can add your own. The ‘Popular’ feed shows a grid of recent images which have been sufficiently liked, and acts as a good supply of new Instagrammers to follow.

Instagram is a triumph of design, and is incredibly easy to use. The developers continue to update the app and it has grown considerably over the past few months, but hasn’t sacrificed usability despite the new features. Like all the best iPhone camera apps, you could easily swap the standard app for Instagram without compromising functionality.

PicPlz

While Instagram is only for iPhone users, PicPlz is a cross-platform photo-sharing app also available on Android, which does take away some of the exclusivity, but increases the amount of users to follow. The concept is very similar to Instagram, with a built-in camera and various filters to spice things up.

The image selection and adjustment screen is similar to Instagram‘s, with the majority of the screen taken up by your image and the 16 available filters in a scrollable line below. The process is slightly easier here though, as the filter selections each give a small preview of your picture with the effect applied.

However, with PicPlz the filters are the only picture adjustments you can make, as there’s no rotation or tilt-shift here. With the picture ready to go, you’ve once again got the chance to add a caption and geo-tag, then share it to just about every photo service going!

Otherwise the app is simple, with a ‘Network’ option to view the photos your friends have been sharing, plus an ‘Interesting’ page with new and highly rated pictures to browse through.

 

The layout and design is almost identical to Instagram, making it very easy to use, and once more you could happily use it as your everyday camera app. While there may be fewer features, PicPlz really benefits from its cross-platform availability, opening itself up to many more users with a wealth of different hardware. For this reason, the ‘Interesting’ section is filled with great pictures, and not just yet another snap of someone’s cat!

Seeing as both applications are free to download, there’s no reason not to grab the pair from the iTunes App Store. But if you really only want to use one of them, which should it be? If you are and always plan to be an iPhone user, then Instagram and its wider selection of image tweaks is probably the one to go for; however if you switch phones regularly, or use both and iPhone and an Android device, PicPlz will keep all your photos together no matter which one you’re using.  PicPlz‘s simplicity and the very handy filter preview pane makes it the choice for anyone just wanting to share pictures quickly and with the minimum of fuss too.

Photo-sharing directly from your smartphone is a fun, social and fast-growing activity, and PicPlz and Instagram are two examples of the very best apps out there.

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