Flow for iPad, a photo by bump on Flickr.
Instagram doesn’t have an official iPad client. Who knows why this is? I have used a bunch of different iPad apps, most recently Iris, which is also quite good, to use this service on my iPad. Recently Flow was released, and I really like it, I think it’s the best Instagram client for iPad.
There are a few different reasons why I like this over the other alternatives out there. First, it’s all about the pictures. As you can see from the image above, the app is designed to only be used in landscape orientation, and fits the maximum amount of pictures into the iPad viewport with a minimum of chrome. Second, the app is snappy, and the transition animations between screens are well thought out, pleasing, yet not over the top. Third, they’ve made it easy to navigate the sea of pictures, allowing you to move picture to picture while viewing in detail mode. Also of use, and well designed, are the abilities to search and bookmark specific tags, users and locations. I have a small list that I check on a regular basis, for example #vscocam, which yields a really nice set of pictures. All the expected Instagram functionality you’d expect is there, and well supported.
Flow is free to download, and does not currently contain any advertising, so I am not sure what their long term plan to make this app into a real business might be. I guess I always wonder about this whenever I download a new app these days. I’d just much rather pay for the app than wonder what could happen in the future. In this case, given that Instagram is still figuring out how to make money too, I think I would be a hypocrite to not use this free app when I am already using this free service. The app is not perfect. The lack of portrait support, while not a deal killer, seems like an oddity in an otherwise well thought out application. I’ve also had to fiddle with it to get the pictures to refresh at times, but I do think, in lieu of an official Instagram client for iPad, that this is a really nice replacement.