I must admit, when hardcore IGers went up in arms over Facebook’s $1billion acquisition of the popular photo-sharing app Instagram, I thought it was too much of a storm in a little teacup. Of course Facebook was not going to fix something that was not broken, right? Or add on its multitude of brand new bells-and-whistles features that they seem to change more often than some of us change their bed sheets.
But what I hadn’t accounted for back then was the humongous number of new users who joined the app simply because, with such commercial success, it became the next ‘in’ thing to do… What I feared would happen with the increasingly popular moodboarding social site Pinterest which hasn’t happened so far – thank goodness! – was growing in leaps and bounds on IG. With the arrival of beauty bloggers and celebs, two social groups which display equally voracious appetites for self-promotion, what was once a popular photo sharing tool suddenly started becoming a mini-Facebook, with celebs showing off their holiday snaps and new haircuts (Rihanna, anyone?), bloggers showing off their nail art, and every Tom, Dick and Harriet in between posting pictures which were once the reserve of Facebook – drunken frat party snaps, what-I’m-wearing-today snaps, girls’ night in snaps…
Now essentially, there is nothing wrong with frat party snaps – except a few too many half naked sods slobbering over each other – or Rihanna’s hot holidays pics (Great source for gossip bloggers), but slowly and surely Instagram stopped being the serene social scene of professional and amateur photo enthusiasts and became pretty much and extension of Facebook with better filters for photo sharing.
While the writer in me loved this new playground of oddities, the photographer rebelled and decided to check out Instagram’s far less commercial cousins – from PicYou to Tadaa, from Streamzoo to PicPlz, you name it and I have tried it over the last three weeks, and my ultimate new ‘appy crush: Streamzoo.
And for those of you who are after good quality photos (If you’re not, please stick with IG) and want to jump ship, here are 5 reasons why, you’re sure to love Streamzoo.
1. A quality Popular Page – it is no wonder that over the course of the last few months, the quality of photos on Instagram’s Popular Page is not what it used to be. If you are sick of seeing One Direction photos, pre-pubescent boys with Justin Bieber haircuts, girls’ navels decorated with belly button rings, Streamzoo’s Popular Wage will give you a visual orgasm with its wide range of amazing landscape and portrait images.
2. No more Square Cropper’s Thumb – One of the most annoying features of Instagram was the Square Crop feature. While there were other apps Squaready to prepare your images in a square frame before uploading them on IG, if you wanted to take and use images straight up on IG, you were bound to look like a fool, staring cross-eyed into your phone screen, with thumb and index fingers of your dominant hand moving in all sorts of directions to get the right crop size. Well, with Streamzoo, which allows you to upload images in any format, you can now rest those fingers.
3. Zoom In, Zoom Out – Fellow IGers will know that Instagram, as sleek as it looks, does not allow the user to zoom into their or other users’ photos, unless you’re using a third party application like Instagallery. With Streamzoo, zooming in and out to your heart’s content is easy peasy.
4. Jump and Slide – Another feature sadly lacking in Instagram is the slide function which allows one to slide through their own or other users’ images. Once again, Streamzoo offers a nifty sliding feature which lets you jump and slide – to the left, to the right, frame by frame.
5. Filter Away – It’s filters galore on Streamzoo. Not only filters, but other touch up features within the app from brightness and contrast to colour correction and saturation to frame options, there are loads of tools and tricks to enhance your photos before you share them with fellow SZers and if you wish, the world, at the click of a button for instant Twitter and – wait for it – Facebook sharing.
Just be warned: If you are indeed happy with frat party and celeb holiday snaps, please please stick with IG and leave SZ to us real photography enthusiasts; that way we can avoid another mass migration to the next little gem of an app not yet discovered by a social media giant.
Very similar to IG in look and feel, with similar functions for filters and frames, this one is a safe bet for those who don’t want to stray too far from what they have come to love.
Available for iPhone and Android, one of the most popular alternatives to Instagram, on top of filters and frames, PicPlz also gives you more options to have fun with your photos such as creating memes, drawing, cropping, rotating, and perform a few other actions you won’t find in Instagram’s app.
Last but not least, this is possibly my second favourite after Streamzoo, with a great range of filters and effects, but also loads of social features not available on IG – like resharing your favourite images from other users with a feature which can only be likened to Twitter’s RT function, hence there is an Awesome (Tadaa’s answer to Popular) and a Trending feed you can check out.