There’s no disputing Instagram’s popularity, but the app doesn’t exactly shine in all aspects. To be fair, no app can be perfect. But for an app based on mobile photo sharing, Instagram isn’t even the best photo app out there. Handling of hashtags, notifications, messaging, and more business-friendly options could all be improved as well.
Given that Statista now estimates the number of Instagram users at 500 million as of June 2016, it’s still not an app to be taken lightly. Another study, conducted by a Georgia Tech computing professor and several employees from Yahoo Labs, found that photos on Flickr with filters applied were 21% more likely to be viewed than their non-filtered counterparts.
There are other apps that can fill some of the photo and social feature gaps that plague Instagram and do a better job of making your posts stand out, however. Here are some of the apps that can kick your Instagram game up a notch and enhance your own Instagram experience.
1. Better Photo Apps
Do you hate having to crop your photos to fit Instagram’s square format? Square InstaPic can convert photos into that format without sacrificing any portion of your picture. The app also assists in making collage photo grids and provides many options to use stickers, frames, fonts, and backgrounds.
Another fantastic photo app that suits this purpose is #SquareDroid: Full-Size Photos.
Download: #SquareDroid: Full-Size Photos.
Some users are still missing the black-and-white Gotham filter. This can be recreated using a combination of apps. For instance, using Toolwiz Photos Editor PRO to achieve the black and white look.
Download: Toolwiz Photos Editor PRO
If you want to achieve a similar effect to Gotham, but you want simplicity, check out Snapseed. It has Vintage, Retro Lux, Noir, and Black and White filters.
More examples of other apps that can do photos better include Adobe Photoshop Express, which has gained enough notoriety to be used as a verb (“That picture looks photoshopped.”). Although it isn’t the Adobe Photoshop CC that can be a little bit more expensive, it still carries over enough editing features to be worth your while.
Download: Adobe Photoshop Express
If you are a selfie-buff, an app called Facetune can also bring out your inner model. And unlike the articles that point out how unrealistic magazine touch ups can be, Facetune still manages to leave you looking natural.
2. Better Business Options
On the surface, it might not seem like it, but there’s a science behind Instagram success. If you are using an Instagram for your business, it’s smart to take a systematic approach. It would probably behoove you to know the optimum posting timeframe to get more viewings and interactions. An app called Iconosquare does just that.
If you aren’t sure that it’s worth the price, you can opt-in to a free 7-day trial. The app will provide plenty of insight about your followers. Running a mostly one-man (or woman) show? Don’t have time for posting when it’s optimal?
Apps like Later – Schedule for Instagram can help you plan your posts in advance. Posts are then pushed to your phone when it’s the ideal time.
Download: Later – Schedule for Instagram
Schedugram is a similar tool that handles post-scheduling, supports multiple users and accounts, and if you pay after the free 7-day trial includes analytics. And unlike the Later app, Schedugram is truly automated. You don’t have to pre-load, check your phone, and post at the time scheduled.
Offerpop revolves around marketing and allows you to build consumer profiles as soon as an Instagram user uses your hashtag. Offerpop also comes with a Photo Lab. Want to make your customers feel appreciated, or just share cool stuff you find while giving credit where it’s due?
That’s what Repost for Instagram is for. So the next time an Instagram user says something that would make other users want to use your brand, just press the Copy Share URL option and let Repost take it from there.
3. Better Social Functionality
Even though it is largely visual, Instagram is still a social app, and social apps should have great communication features. The app does have a built-in messaging component, called Instagram Direct Message, but many users have reported problems with the feature not displaying all messages, or not working at all. Perhaps a better option is InstaMessage – Chat, Meet, Hangout. You can use the app to chat with any Instagram users privately.
Download: InstaMessage – Chat, Meet, Hangout
Another element of Instagram that could use a makeover is its use of push notifications. By definition, notifications should grab your attention when something is going on, but with the current setup, you have to be looking at your phone all of the time to even know if you have an Instagram notification. IgNo gives you far more options for your senses; including vibration, sound, the LED light, and screen flashing. If you don’t like ads, you can upgrade to IgNo PRO for a small fee.
Download: Igno PRO
You might also find it annoying that you can’t save or download photos directly from within the Instagram app. While the premise behind this is well-intended (Instagram want to prevent you from stealing other’s’ photos and claiming them as your own) it still seems like you should be able to download a photo you are tagged in. And you can, with third-party apps like InstaSave.
Download: InstaSave for Instagram
If you would like to do more of a mass download on your PC, try Free Instagram Downloader.
Download: Free Instagram Downloader
Who’s following you, who’s following who, who are you even following? Why is this so mysterious? If you want to take an analytical approach to tracking your followers, download Followers + for Instagram.
Download: Followers + for Instagram
If you are having trouble sleeping at night because you can’t figure out who unfollowed or blocked you (although they might not be too important if you don’t notice their absence for weeks), try Follower Insight for Instagram.
Download: Follower Insight for Instagram
Must Read: 5 Best Social Networking Apps for Android
4. Manage Your Digital Social Life
Odds are if you use Instagram, you might also use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or LinkedIn. And there will probably be instances when you want to post to multiple networks at once. Hootsuite for Twitter and Social makes this easier for you and also helps you track analytics. It will also assist you in following hashtags.
Speaking of hashtags, if you want to leverage these little tags to get more likes, or you just don’t feel like typing them every time, install the Hashtags app.
Grab for Instagram provides search for multiple hashtags. Grab also lets you manage your limited time by skipping to any portion of a video post and view posts in thumbnails or full-screen slideshows. The app helps you share others’ posts, even on separate social platforms.
Download: Grab for Instagram
Want to backup the images of you and your friends? Use InstaSave for Instagram. This way if you ever decide to cancel your Instagram, you needn’t lose the photos you’ve accumulated. This app also backs up videos.
Download: InstaSave for Instagram
If you are having problems with the Instagram app itself being unavailable, you can use a site like downdetector.com. If you want to cut out Instagram altogether, there are alternative apps like Flickr. Whichever you choose, you don’t want to be just another photo in the crowd. Try out some of these apps to set yourself apart.
What apps do you use to complement Instagram? Send us your thoughts.