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In our weekly series, Ware of the Week, we showcase our favourite organised lines of code from the world of mobile and desktop computing. In today’s edition, we profile a third party Instagram client that embraces Google’s Material Design philisophy to heart — Imagine Free. If you missed our previous Ware of the Week winner, catch it below.
Read more: Ware of the Week: Meerkat
Instagram is one of the top Android apps on the Google Play store, with over 500-million installations. It’s also one of the fastest growing social media platforms in existence, and growing at a consistent rate as more and more people adopt smartphones with better cameras. But there’s a massive problem with this — Instagram doesn’t run on all phones.
I recently purchased a Vodacom Smart Kicka — the little pocket performer I reviewed back in November 2014 — but because the phone doesn’t have GPS, Instagram turns its head, and struts away when I try to install it on the device.
That’s understandable. An app can’t support every device on the Android or iOS roster, but this does give way to third party apps.
What is it?
Imagine Free, as you can assume, is a third party Instagram client that will work on devices that don’t quite support Instagram’s native client. It’s developers have also dipped its fingers into the Material Design clay — the design philosophy used extensively in the new version of Android, Android Lollipop.
To suggest that this app offers anything new over the native app would be fallacious, but it is a damn lot prettier.
Why is it awesome?
For reasons mentioned before, not all devices play nicely with Instagram, even if you don’t plan on recording video or uploading pictures to the service. What if you just wanted to browse through its coffers? Imagine Free does this, largely, in a Google+ like style.
It provides all the functionality of Instagram — including the What’s Hot, Profile, Likes and Feed sections, but includes a nifty left-hand navigation pane where all these shortcuts can be accessed.
Liking a picture remains as easy as a double tap, and there’s also an option to “Regram” images from within the feed itself — something that I thoroughly love, but annoyingly, this is only accessible on the paid-for version.
Did I mention that it’s also damn pretty?
Material Design works extremely well on larger screens, but it also looks grand on my tiny 3.5-inch Smart Kicka. It should fit in well with the Android Lollipop skins and UX features from Samsung, LG and the like.
What really sucks
It’s free and while that’s a brilliant thing for your wallet, it’s a nightmare for your sanity. A regular bevy of advertisements you don’t particularly want to see suggesting things that you don’t particularly need often causes the entire app to slow to a halt. It’s hell on a small screen.
Instagram has also had a bit of a fall out with third party apps too, so we’re not too sure how long Imagine will be around. In a sense, it provides the same functionality as the default Instagram client, but it requests fewer permissions.
As one would imagine (genuinely no pun intended), there is a premium version of the app which kills those advertisements, but again, I don’t want to pay for an Instagram client.
If you’re in my boat and can’t install Instagram on your device, grab a paddle and install Imagine. If you’re looking for Instagram with a tiny smidgeon of additional functionality, and a whole lot more style, Imagine is your ticket. And of course, if you’re willing to spend R27 on an Instagram