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When it comes to photo-centric social networks, some may shy away from the Facebook-owned Instagram if they prefer a quieter environment for sharing images. But what if you could dial out the noise and actually tame the Instagram experience instead? That’s the premise behind Gramatica for Instagram, a $0.99 app that serves up a handful of features currently overlooked by the photo sharing service. Want to quickly switch between multiple accounts? Prefer to filter out certain tags, photos, or even entire users? Gramatica has your back.
While this may sound like a dubious way to spend a buck for all but power users, we immediately found one worthwhile use for Gramatica: Accepting or rejecting follow requests in bulk. With the official app, this can be a labor-intensive task, especially for users with a lot of Facebook friends. In Gramatica, Follow Requests are displayed as a pop-up list, each ready to be accepted or rejected with a single tap. We were able to make quick work of nearly 100 such requests, although the implementation tends to be a little buggy – tap too quickly, and the pop-up fails to properly refresh, making selections appear to have been ignored.
Curiously, Gramatica’s creators fail to include the most common use for Instagram: Actually posting photos. Although there’s a camera button built into the app, it doesn’t actually do anything except launch the official app (or prompt to download from the App Store), which is required to actually take or post pictures. This isn’t a big problem on the iPhone or iPod touch, but there is currently no iPad-native version of Instagram. While the official app works in 2x mode on tablets, it’s not an ideal solution – which is why Gramatica’s universal support is a dream for iPad users who browse more than they post.
On the iPad, Gramatica brings images to life in a big, colorful way compared to viewing them at postage stamp sizes on the iPhone – especially on a Retina Display. Tap to open a larger view, pinch to zoom in or out, or double-tap to like, all with customizable filters to block out stuff you don’t like, keeping the focus on what you do. Users can also create lists; the app includes quick links for My Photos and My Likes, but you can create a virtually unlimited number of your own, sorted by users or hashtags. A handy Search tool makes it a snap to discover content, and the iPhone version includes a thumbnail gallery view for jumping quickly to specific photos.
The bottom line. For iPhone and iPod touch owners, there’s little incentive to spend even a dollar on Gramatica – the official Instagram app is free, and it works just fine. For Instagram junkies who also own an iPad, however, Gramatica is a no-brainer for the slick tablet browsing features alone.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
Universal app with native iPad support. Faster than official app for approving/rejecting friend requests. Slick, customizable user interface.
No shooting or posting of photos. Occasional UI glitches with friend requests and lists. Limited utility for iPhone/iPod touch users. App lacks official certification, making it potentially vulnerable to future API changes.