Typically, I would at least mention competitors, if not briefly review them as well. But this time, I want to highlight how amazing the newest Instagram client is for Windows Phone 8. In my eyes, there is no comparison. I am a voyeur when it comes to my friends, family and strangers I follow. Instagram was a great addition to iOS, and later Android. Does 6tag come to the party and help keep people like me on the platform?
I follow 213 users, and 54 follow me. I don’t post as often as I should, but enjoy keeping up with other’s photography. Launching the app 2-3 times a day, it is important for me to be able to quickly catch up. When Instagram added support for videos, I basically ditched Vine. It is great having everything in one place. I tried a couple other Windows Phone 8 clients for both services, and the developer’s 6sec app was excellent. I hung in there for 6tag, and I am glad I did.
6tag shows how unique and powerful Windows Phone 8 applications can be. I kept telling friends and family that apps on the platform should strive to be different. I don’t want recreations of iOS and Android apps. I want fresh new approaches to the services I care about. 6tag delivers. The application loads quickly, and Instagram users will be familiar with the look, but power users will find much more.
At the top of the screen is the 6tag logo, a numerical sphere showing the number of unread activity updates, and a small personal picture which links straight to your own profile. Scrolling is fairly smooth, with pauses only noticeable when it needs to load more posts. Clicking on user names and hashtags within the posts works very well. Liking a photo is as easy as on any other platform… just double tap. Click on a username to go right to their profile. Click on the heart to see a list of other users who liked the photo, and click on the chat buddle to see any and all comments. The bottom of the screen has buttons to quick access Activity, Capture and Search. There are also text buttons for Your Likes, Settings and About. Activity brings a scrollable list of updates from both those you follow and news about those who have started following you, and likes or commented your photos. Everything just works, and is fairly fast and responsive.
User profile views are clean and match the phone’s font and layout style. You can quickly see their followers, who they are following, along with recent posts and tags. This all applies to your personal profile as well. A Photo Map is available for seeing where photos were posted from/tagged. Searching is also nice to have, and it works very well for both users and hashtags. You can Pin to Start your favorite searches as well.
Swiping on a post is where the surprises are. Once you swipe, you have access to quickly like a photo, share via social networking services linked to your phone, and copy the link to share elsewhere. Access to comments is there, along with my favorite feature… downloading and saving the photo straight to your Saved Pictures album both locally and on SkyDrive. There are some great images on Instagram, and I never had a quick and easy way to save my favorites… until now.
Capture is the meat of the application for most, and nearly mirrors the functionality found in official Instagram clients on the other platforms. Once in this mode, the default view is to take a photo. Click the icon on the left to capture video or click the icon on the right to upload a previously taken photo. The option to enable a grid is present, along with the ability to quick swap between front and rear cameras, along with flash controls. Your favorite filters are there (mostly), as are the options to frame your photo and use the tilt-shift feature. Tilt shift makes photos stand out on the service, and the linear ( – ) and radial ( 0 ) blur options are both there. You can rotate your captures, add/remove the border, and adjust contrast. The contrast adjustment is one click on or off and basically helps to improve low light photos.
When you are ready to post your photos, you can add as much or as little text as you want. Photo Map allows you to add a location to your posting, and you can even tag people (if any). Unfortunately, you can’t tag food… or can you? Besides uploading straight to Instagram, you can post to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, VK and Foursquare. In my experience it take 3-5 seconds to upload and post to both Twitter and Facebook.
Settings are well thought out, and let you customize your profile, background functionality, and picture/video options. It is also where you can find new users to follow.
Instagram feels like it was conceived for Windows Phone 8 devices, and especially Nokia Lumia devices with their stellar cameras and low-light modes. I don’t feel the need for an official client anymore, thanks to 6tag. I have found little to no bugs or inconsistencies, and the app has never forced quit or dumped me out to my start screen. I believe the thorough beta testing the developer went through, including members of the community, really helped make 1.0 stable from launch. 6tag helps to remind us all not to believe everything we hear about our beloved platform, nor to rely on first party developers for solutions. Third party app developers will be the ones to make or break Windows Phone. Rudy Huyn just made it even better with 6tag.
6tag is free with an in-app purchase to remove ads.