Instagram 2.1

After a long week at work, I went out yesterday afternoon for a casual beer with a friend. As I was leaving, I remarked, "I'm becoming increasingly addicted to Instagram." The innocuous statement was quickly validated a mere 20 minutes later.

Walking down a short stretch of a bike path, I found myself taking photo after photo of different things that caught my eye. None were particularly fetching or interesting and, accordingly, none made it onto Instagram. But the joy of taking interesting photos, trying out different filters, and interacting with the photographic eye of friends is certainly a novel thing, and it's evidently growing on me.

In the short span of time between the bar and my house, Instagram 2.1 was released. Although the version number suggests a minor iteration, don't be fooled - this is a larger change than you might expect. Moreover, version 2.1 may prove to be one of the most important iterations for Instagram so far.

Boasting a new UI, a new filter, and a new feature, Lux, Instagram has seemingly reached the early stages of adulthood. The clean UI foregoes the previously kitschy touches, instead offering a unique, attractive, and functional interface. Lux highlights the subtle touches of your photographs, rendering your iPhone's photos that much better than they might have been before.

Those three primary changes may not sound earth-shattering to you, but for an Instagram user, those are brilliant additions. Lifting the basic quality of photographs with Lux and offering an adult user interface lends an air of credibility and matured sophistication to the app, with the filters sustaining the lively youthful interior.

In the face of ever-broadening social networks, Instagram dares to do one thing well, and I would argue that it succeeds. Rather than broaching privacy concerns, expanding unnecessarily, and breaching user trust, Instagram has evolved in a most affable manner - a rare trait. Restricted to iOS, Instagram has had a controlled and measured uptake in interest, despite often being unfairly lumped in with the swathes of hipster-esque photography apps. With version 2.1, however, Instagram has shed its adolescent clothing, and is now a refined and admirable adult, standing apart from the remainder of the eclectic photography pack.

Accordingly, with version 2.1, my usage of Instagram has already begun to increase. The number of "likes" I'm accustomed to receiving has already begun to grow. In other words, version 2.1, for me, has firmly instantiated Instagram's appeal. Out for only a day, whether it's the increased quality of the photos on display, or the new UI, something is certainly drawing myself and my friends back into the service far more often than normal.

You might argue this elevated interaction is merely a reflection of the novelty of having an updated UI, but I tend to think otherwise. Instagram is, and always has been, a fantastic social network. But with this update, Instagram has earned a newfound level of credibility and maturation that was heretofore lacking from the interface. Although the monetization of Instagram is still a relative mystery, if the progression demonstrated in this update is indicative of the social network's forthcoming iterations, I can only imagine Instagram is going to continue its rapid and impressive growth.

Instagram is available here.