While Vine, Flipboard, and Path have all promised Windows Phone 8 support, one particular app is still missing: Instagram. Nokia has tried to pressure Facebook into building an Instagram Windows Phone app, but so far users have had to resort to third-party applications. Instance, a popular unofficial Windows Phone Instagram app that supports viewing and uploading of Instagram photos, appears to now be blocked from using the photo sharing service. The application reverse engineers Instagram's own API to bypass and upload pictures to the service unofficially.
Evidently Instagram has little spies that watch every @WindowsPhone user and deletes their images after uploading. #onlythingicanthinkof— Daniel Gary (@danielgary) July 30, 2013
Daniel Gary, the developer behind Instance claims that Instagram is deleting images after they're uploaded to the service using the third-party Instance Windows Phone app. During our own tests we've been able to confirm that photos do indeed upload to Instagram from the Instance application, and are visible on Instagram's website if you're logged in using your own profile. After just seconds, the photos disappear from an Instagram account and the URLs to access them no longer work. On one Verge staff account, a photo uploaded last week using Instance is no longer visible publicly for others to see, but is still stored under the account.
It appears that Facebook is tracking uploads from the Instance app, and perhaps other unofficial Instagram apps, and is actively deleting user content. The change comes just days after Hipstamatic Oggl launched for Windows Phone, providing Instagram upload support but no viewing capabilities. Gary was previously forced to change the name of his application from "Itsdagram" to Instance, and we've reached out to him for comment on the removals. We've also contacted Facebook to comment on the content removals, and we'll update you accordingly.
Update: Instance developer Daniel Gary has confirmed to The Verge that Instagram appears to be "detecting when photos are not uploading via the official app." Gary says he's working on a fix, but that the problem is affecting all users of Instance. "It’s their servers, their service. What I was doing was not approved by them and was using their private API," he says, noting that he doesn't blame Facebook for blocking the app.
Update 2: An Instagram spokesperson has confirmed that the company has implemented a recent change to its API. "We recently made an update to the systems that we use to fight spam to help prevent future attacks and increase security," says a spokesperson. The change will affect any apps accessing Instagram outside of the official API, and it appears to be a broad change that doesn't target any particular application. 6tagram, another third-party Windows Phone Instagram client currently in beta, is also experiencing issues.
Update 3: An Instagram spokesperson has confirmed the "update does not specifically target any particular app or platform." The API appears to have been updated again, as Instance users are reporting that pictures now successfully upload to their accounts, but that they're blocked from view to other users.