By now, you are most likely familiar with Twitter and how the online social networking site allows people to share their life as it happens by publishing an ongoing series of short messages (up to 140 characters in length). The popularity of Twitter continues to grow, which is why Apple has integrated Twitter functionality into the iOS 5.1 operating system for its iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as within OS X Mountain Lion for the Mac.
Twitter offers the ability to share text-based messages that can also have a website URL, photo, and/or the tweeter’s location attached. However, a newer service, called Instagram, is quickly gaining worldwide popularity. Using the camera that is built in to your iPhone or iPad, the Instagram app enables you to snap photos, edit and enhance them using the app’s built-in tools, and then publish your images online in order to easily share them with family, friends, coworkers, or the public.
When you set up a free Instagram account in conjunction with the free app, you’re given a unique location on the web that people can access in order to view and comment on your stream of published photos (each of which can have a short, text-based caption associated with it). In addition, it’s extremely easy to link your Instagram feed to your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, or Tumblr account(s), allowing you to share you photos with your existing online “friends” and followers.
For people who want to share their life but who don’t enjoy writing text-based tweets using Twitter, Instagram offers a way to chronicle your experiences using digital photos that can be shot, edited, and shared onlineall within a few seconds using the Instagram app. While Instagram’s capabilities have already captured the attention of more than 30 million users worldwide, most of whom are under the age of 35, the capabilities of this service have also been noticed by Facebook, which recently acquired the Instagram company for $1 billion.
Now, instead of using words to share details about your life, adventures, company, product, or service with others, Instagram offers a fun way to chronicle information using full-color digital photos that are displayed in chronological order as they’re shot and published on the service.
To begin using Instagram, visit the App Store from your iPhone or iPad and download the free Instagram app, or visit http://www.instagram.com and click on the Available On The App Store icon. Be sure to acquire the official Instagram app and not a third-party app that offers Instagram functionality.
Once installed on your iOS mobile device, set up a free Instagram account. To do this, from the Instagram app’s opening screen, tap on the Sign Up icon. You will be prompted to enter your email address, a unique username for yourself, a unique password for your account, a phone number (which is optional), and your own photo (which becomes part of your profile). Click on the Done icon when the requested information has been entered.
After establishing your Instagram account, from the Find Friends screen within the app, you can invite people from your iPhone or iPad’s Contacts database, your existing Facebook friends, and your existing Twitter followers to begin following your Instagram photo feed. You can also search for people from the Instagram online directory to invite as followers. Choose one of the displayed options for inviting friends to access your Instagram feed, or click on the Next icon to continue.
Keep in mind, you can also link your Instagram account to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, so as soon as you publish a photo on Instagram, it also gets published simultaneously and automatically on Facebook, Twitter, and/or other supported services.
Next, the Instagram app will recommend people for you to follow via the app in order to view their image postings. The recommendations may be for specific people, celebrities, organizations, and/or businesses. Click on the Follow option to follow specific Instagram feeds, or click on the Done icon to continue.
You’re now ready to begin taking photos, editing them, adding captions, and uploading them to your Instagram feed. Or, you can further customize the app by editing your profile, editing your photo sharing settings, and/or by adjusting your photo privacy settings.
Unless you set photos to be private, they become viewable by your followers as well as by the public upon publishing them on the Instagram site. To adjust the Instagram settings, tap on the Settings icon that’s displayed near the lower-right corner of the screen. When the Settings menu appears, begin by taping on the Edit Profile option.
Your online profile (which is also viewable by the public) can contain your first and/or last name, your website URL, and/or a short bio about yourself, as well as your own photo. This information, however, is optional. Displaying your Instagram Username within your profile is mandatory.
Next, from the Settings menu, click on the Edit Sharing Settings option. This allows you to link your existing Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, and/or Foursquare accounts to your Instagram feed. You will need to provide the app with your username and password for each service that you link.
Also from the main Settings menu, if you turn the virtual switch associated with the Photos Are Private option to the On position, before someone can view your Instagram feed (and become a follower), he or she will need to be approved by you.
By clicking on the Your Photos option from the Settings menu, you can view the photos you’ve posted, see how many followers you have, plus view how many people you’re following. You’ll also discover other options under the main Settings menu that allow you to manage your Instagram account.