Instagram today announced the launch of web profiles, full-fledged Instagram profile pages you can access from a web browser. Each profile includes a header image filled with a user's recent photos, a Follow button, and a grid of user photos organized by date. Hovering over a photo pops up how many likes or comments it has, and clicking a photo pops up the web-based viewer we've been using since June. "People have been asking for this for a while now," Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in an email. "We're launching web profiles to give you a simple way to share your photos with more people and to make it easier to discover new users on the web."
Instagram may've launched web profiles, but it's still clearly quite wary of tampering with its engaged and quickly growing mobile audience. Instagram on the web notably still lacks search, a news feed for browsing photos, and the ability to upload photos (a good thing, we think). Without a news feed, you'll have to either enter in a friend's URL directly (like instagram.com/ellishamburger) or click to their profile from an image they've tweeted or posted to Facebook. Design-wise, the new profiles clearly evoke Facebook, its header images, and of course — its brand-ability. Facebook Pages have been big moneymakers for the social network, and targeting brands is a clear undertone in today's web profile announcement.
In the absence of an official Instagram website, sites like Statigram have sprung up to fill the gap. That site, for example, has more than a million members, and offers features Instagram's new site doesn't like the ability to search for photos and view tags attached to photos. These sites utilize Instagram's API to generate online profiles, but don't allow photo uploading.
While we highly doubt Instagram would ever allow uploading photos from a computer, a web news feed might be in the works. "[The news feed] is something we're considering," a company spokesperson told The Verge. Also worth noting is that Instagram's web profiles do not include Photo Maps, which launched as part of Instagram 3.0 in August. Instagram web profiles begin rolling out to users today, and should reach all users by the end of the week, the company said.