Nokia's seen little success after a campaign to bring Instagram to Windows Phone. However, the company has found a solution in iOS mainstay Hipstamatic, which can post images directly to Instagram. Today Hipstamatic Oggl is launching for all Windows Phone 8 devices, making it the first official way users on Microsoft's mobile OS to upload pictures to the ever-popular Instagram. We've played around with the app a bit to see if Hipstamatic's nailed it or if we should keep petitioning Instagram for a proper app — read on to find out.
First, if you're not familiar with Hipstamatic, it's important to understand that Oggl isn't just an Instagram app. Like the iOS version that launched this May, the app is part of its own photo sharing service. When you upload photos to your Oggl account, you also get the option to upload to Facebook, Twitter, or — thanks to a recent partnership — Instagram. Hipstamatic Oggl is all about the filters though.
The app takes a bit of a different approach to filters than Instagram, however: like the original iOS Hipstamatic app, it's designed for you to choose both a "lens" and "film" combination before you take a photo. You can choose either a custom-made pair or a preloaded selection from the shooting menu, and as you switch between them the app will render a quick preview of how that filter will look before the live preview returns to its unfiltered state. The process isn't very smooth, but thankfully Hipstamatic has added an option to choose filter options after you take a picture. However, the only edits you'll be able to make are to lens and film selection — even the most basic editing tools like brightness, contrast, and crop are missing here. And since you can't import photos taken with the standard camera app, you better hope the first shot you take is perfect.
Photo editing is extremely limited
The free app includes five lenses and film selections, but there's a whole closet full of "gear" that you can download, giving you many more filter options. You'll need to sign up for a $9.99 per year (or $2.99 per quarter) to unlock those extra filters, however, though they'll be free for the first 60 days. The included filters themselves don't impress, unfortunately. There's nothing particularly wrong with them, but none of the options seemed to make photos pop or turn a standard cellphone shot into a fun picture to share.
Once uploaded, the picture showed up in my Instagram feed instantly. That's all you'll be able to do with Instagram from the app, however. You won't be able to view your Instagram photos or those of friends you follow. In fact, you won't be able to set up an Instagram account within the app either. And since you can't register from Instagram's barebones website, that means you'll need to borrow a friend's Android or iOS device to do so. Meanwhile, to view Instagram photos, you'll need to load up the service's website from the mobile browser on your Windows Phone.
Beyond those difficulties, Hipstamatic Oggl was just frustrating to use. The company still needs to work out some kinks here: the app crashed on me once, and overall navigation is sluggish. One of the biggest problems is the user interface. The main screen is an overly-cluttered camera with poorly-marked icons (that square frame button, if you're wondering, takes you to your gallery). Behind the camera is a completely different UI using Windows Phone's standard hub layout that mashes together your gallery, profile, and feed, as well as the store to download more filters.
Ultimately, Hipstamatic Oggl's native Instagram support will make plenty of Windows Phone users happy. However, the app remains little more than a subpar stand-in for a proper Instagram app. Yes, you can upload pictures to your feed without any of the hacky solutions implemented by third-party apps like Instance, but the complete Instagram experience is sorely missing here. Additionally, the photo editing options are lacking — a situation that is exacerbated by the complete omission of an option to import pictures. A few of these issues are fixed by the Hipstamatic Oggl Pro app, which offers fine-tuned control of ISO, white balance, shutter speed, and more while shooting, but it is exclusive to the Lumia 1020. Until Instagram and Facebook get around to giving Windows Phone users what they want, however, Oggl will likely earn its place on your homescreen if you're an Instagram devotee.
Update: Hipstamatic has clarified that Hipstamatic Oggl is available for all Windows Phone 8 devices. The company previously demonstrated the app with Nokia, but only Oggl Pro will be an exclusive.