After taking baby steps for the past year, Instagram has finally realized its potential as a real website. The company has just launched web feeds for all users, which means that interacting with Instagram on the web produces nearly the same experience as interacting with Instagram on the mobile app.
Almost. But we'll get back to that.
The Facebook-owned photo-sharing social network has been around for over two years and amassed over 90 million monthly active users. And today marks the first time that users can browse their feeds on the web.
Instagram, who has admittedly thrown all of their focus into mobile, took the first step into building a passable web presence last June when they launched comments and likes on individual photo pages on the web. Before that, viewing an Instagram photo via a link on a Twitter or Facebook post was simply that - viewing the photo. That was the only web presence that Instagram maintained. Adding comments and likes to the web photo pages allowed users to interact with the network on a very basic level.
Then, in November, Instagram launched profiles on the web, giving users the ability to browse individual users' photos. Once again, a baby step toward a true web presence.
Today, Instagram on the web gets a news feed - one that mimics the mobile experience.
"Your Instagram Feed on the web functions much like it does on your mobile phone. You can browse through the latest photos of people whom you follow with updates as people post new photos. Like photos by double clicking on them or pressing the like button. Or, engage in a conversation around a photo with inline commenting. Browse through pages of the most recent images to keep up on what’s happening with the people you follow in realtime. And shrink your browser down to a single column for your feed to look more like your mobile feed. Simply put, we’ve brought a simple, powerful, and beautiful Instagram browsing experience to the web," says Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom.
You can click on @users to view their profiles. It doesn't look like hashtags are clickable yet - but other than that everything else feels like the mobile app.
As it stands, the web experience is 75% or so of the mobile experience. The only thing still missing is the ability to upload and tool photos from the web. As much as you may want that ability, you shouldn't hold your breath. According to Instagram, that wouldn't really fit the company's overall mission:
"We do not offer the ability to upload from the web as Instagram is about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in realtime. On the other hand, Instagram for the web is focused on making the browsing experience a fast, simple and enjoyable one," says Systrom.
Even so, Instagram has finally grown up and they have an actual website to prove it.