Have you ever noticed, while sitting in a restaurant, quickly hogging down the awesome dinner and right across your table, a bunch of young kids taking pictures of their food,drinks, maybe even cutlery? Yes, it may sound a little weird, but that is the effect of Instagram. No, it is not some weird service for people to share what they are eating, but that is primarily what Instagram is used for.
Instagram was released as an iOS only application and later made it’s way to Android and quickly became one of the most popular applications on the platform. It basically allows the users to share their pictures with their friends and Social Network. Instagram also allows the users some very basic editing of images by applying filters, or rotating the images etc. You can like and comment on the shared pictures too, but does it not get extremely irritating when the comments section becomes the chat section? Where people basically sit and talk things nowhere related to the picture because they want to catch up.
(Image via: Google Play)
To solve this problem on Instagram, an instant Chat service called InstaMessage is available. What InstaMessage basically let’s you do is chat, indeed, IM with your friends privately on Instagram and a little more.
You may wonder, why another IM is needed? The answer is simple, InstaMessage just uses your Instagram profile, no giving out numbers, or E-Mail ID’s or any other private information.
How Should I go about Using InstaMessage?
The first and foremost thing for using InstaMessage you need is an active Instagram account. You can download the Instagram application for free for Android and iOS from the respective application stores and upload an image or two.
Once you are done with that, you need to download the application InstaMessage. The application is available for both iOS as well as Android device and works cross platform. So, even if you have an Android device, you will be able to chat with someone who has an iPhone.
Download: InstaMessage for Android
Download: InstaMessage for iOS
Once you have downloaded the application, you will have to set up a profile which includes very basic things like an image, a cover photo and sort of a status message as to what is on your mind, after logging in with your Instagram account. Your Instagram photos are automatically imported to the feed of the application and you can add in few more details here and there. You do get the option of sending out promotional message though using ‘Promote Me’ button in the profile.
The Overall User Experience
The setting up and getting started bit is pretty much how you would expect from any application. App responds well on most of the mid to high end devices. The contacts are bit like Whatsapp though, you can only chat with friends on Instagram who have the application. However, you can invite the friends too which can be done via iMessage very conveniently if you are on an iPhone.
You also have the option to use the location of your device and explore people who are nearby and start a conversation. It is kind of creepy though, that you can look up at an instagram profile and just like that start a chat. You get a cool bit of information how close the person is to your location. Under Explore, you can also look at the popular people.
Once you open somebody’s profile, you can click on a heart like symbol on the profile which notifies the user of your interest in them.
You cannot like or comment on Instagram pictures though through the app which was a bit of a bummer
However, in case you are exploring people, the app does give you an option to simply follow them on Instagram directly.
How the App compare to other IM’s like Whatsapp?
If you are comparing InstaMessage to a regular IM lapp like Hike or WeChat or even Whatsapp, then you will be disappointed. The client is extremely basic and easy to use. There is no way to send anything like an image or a file to the person you are chatting with. Also, there is no way to know if the message has been delivered or not, and that gets very irritating.
“The application feels like talking to walls at times, no way to know if your message has reached or been read”- A very irritated user
The message delivery too is slow and kind of broken if we can say. Inconsistency sweeps the application, as occasionally the message is delivered instantly and takes a good two or three minutes despite a very good connection. We tested this by sending messages over on Whatsapp. The explore feature too is a little gimmicky unlike the likes of WeChat. This is because you do not know if the person is available to chat or not, you simply get pictures of the person and the ability to chat with them. It could well be some of these users installed the apps once and then deleted off.
There is no way to know if the person is online or not
Although, there are enough features available on the application especially the ability to chat with strangers who you may be following on Instagram, you will want to come out of the app fast. The notification system too is flawed and we did not get a notification when someone left a message for us when we were in other apps despite leaving notifications on. There is the ability to hide your location and even block people on the application in case you feel someone is unnecessarily bothering you.
TL;DR: The app is best served to exchange contact information with people you are following on Instagram. You will want to switch to Whatsapp or other such client quickly for regular communication
The Bad and the Good?
The two major drawbacks of the application were the inability to like or comment on the Instagram pictures and lack of notification on message delivery. The app simply shows up the image and there should definitely have been a way to interact better with the pictures on Instagram.
Apart from chatting, there is very little app can do
The good is the fact, the app is extremely simple to use, very basic and allows you to break the ice with people you perhaps had no way to contact before. So, the app does have a place, but not more than just a head start.
Should you Download InstaMessage?
If you really fancy somebody on your Instagram profile and would like to know the person better, then InstaMessage is a good way to get started. However, if you know the person already, and have all the details, then the app will prove to be a mere gimmick. You are better off using a different and more conventional applications to try and chat people up.
Keep your location hidden if you do not want to be listed in ‘Explore’
One word of advice though, the application does creep people out, and in my honest conversation with one of the users, she was very clear that it is a very creepy way to get in touch, especially if somebody keeps barging the messages into your face. So, use the application wisely and make sure you do no creep someone out.
If you have any doubts or questions regarding the application, do not hesitate to write in the comments section below.
*Thanks to Kanika Vinayak for the help in reviewing the application and allowing the screenshots