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Seven Instagram alternatives for the iPhone

By Matt Elliott2012-04-10

If Facebook's terms of service changes have you heading for the exit, you're going to need another fun- and filter-filled photo-sharing app.

Instagram created a social-media uproar last night when it changed its terms of service to state that it could license user photos for display by advertisers without consent and without compensation. Granted, Instagram isn't the first social-networking service to claim the right to use uploaded content, but the broad language with phrases like "without any compensation to you" spurred a quick and vocal backlash. And rightly so.

Fortunately, it took less than a day before Instagram began to realize its mistake. As rivals began to pounce on its fumble and users threatened to leave, CEO Kevin Systrom wrote a blog post this afternoon promising that the company would alter the language and that it had no plans to use photos in advertisements.

So while the situation is looking better, it's understandable if you're still spooked. Despite the company's backtrack, the entire affair shows not only how important it is to read terms of service, but also how it can be hard to understand them.

Before you lawyer up, though, know that Instagram is not the only app for sharing photos. Indeed, there are many titles and we've listed some of our iOS favorites below. Alternatively, if you're on Android, CNET editor Jaymar Cabebe updated his list of Android alternatives earlier today (Snapseed, which also is available for iOS, is a highlight). And if you really, really want to say goodbye to Instagram for good, here's how to back up your Instagram photos and delete your account.

Before we begin, just note that some of the apps listed below are full photo-editing apps that also have photo-sharing capabilities. All let you use a variety of filters, including the retro-looking tinge that made Instagram so popular.

Twitter (free)
If you mainly used Instagram to post to Twitter, why not just use Twitter's dedicated app? The microblogging service added photo filters to its mobile apps earlier this month, just after Instagram decided to end photo integration.

After taking a photo you can add one of eight filters including black and white, vintage, and cinematic. You also can auto enhance, see a bird's-eye view, use a frame, and crop. Of course, the new features are in addition to everything the Twitter app already does.

As Jason Parker said in his review, Twitter now offers a slightly more robust experience for links and photos. Instead of individual tweets opening up in a new screen, they are expanded inline to show linked photos and snippets of linked articles (only from partner Web sites). Clicking on a photo allows you to see a large version of the image and save it to your device. Similarly, clicking on the actual URL opens the page in Twitter's built-in browser.

Naturally, once your photo is ready you can post only to Twitter. Also, the filtering effect is pretty mild, so real photo enthusiasts may want to look elsewhere. But for convenience and saving steps the Twitter app does the job.

Hipstamatic ($1.99)
Hipstamatic boasts a fun, retro design, but it works in the opposite way to most camera apps, including Instagram, in that it forces you to apply a filter to a shot before you snap it, not after. You can adjust the look of your photos by selecting different lenses and film types, but you must make these choices before hitting the shutter button.

Hipstamatic also lacks its own social network; your sharing options include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and even Instagram. The app features a handful of lenses, flashes, and films, and 99-cent HipstaPaks net you more.

Flickr (free)
Yahoo's long-neglected app got a big update last week with several new features.

In Jason's review, he applauded the Flickr app's usability. "It's easy to connect with the Flickr community and upload photos while on the go," he wrote. "It's easy to use, the redesign looks great, and it's a great tool for showing off and sharing your best photos online."

Photo manipulation isn't Flickr's strongest point. It offers 16 filters, in weird animal names like aardvark, salamander, and flamingo. You also can caption items, and that's about it.

Yet, Flickr is really good at sharing natively to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or e-mail. Plus, it lets you browse through tons of images from other users and you can download any photo in just a few taps.

Uploading is trickier since the app can be slow at times. Also, you can't organize your photos into sets from the app after they have been uploaded, or create groups.

But as for sharing photos while adding some color -- in other words, what Instagram does -- Flickr handles the basics pretty well.

PhotoToaster (99 cents)
PhotoToaster goes much further with photo editing. Indeed, it got high marks in the CNET review for its features and intuitive interface.

Among the options are more than 60 preset effects and custom options. Besides a variety of filters they include new Lighting Brushes and elements like textures and borders. These options give the app its name (you "toast a photo").

We like that the app lets you customize the effects to your liking using onscreen sliders. And once you've found your starting point, you can go to each button across the bottom to make your tweaks.

Each of the sections lets you switch to sliders if you want to precisely tune your image in real time, but there are also presets if you don't want to get too involved in the process. Any changes you make are reversible, so you can always go back to the original picture.

For sharing you can upload to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. You also can send your photo in a text or a special postcard. On the downside, PhotoToaster has begin to add in-app purchases, but the included options will take you a long way.

KitCam ($1.99)
KitCam is one of the few apps to win a CNET Editors' Choice Award. Indeed, Jason loved it and said it's "the app to buy" and that it succeeds as a "jack of all trades."

For starters, you can use up to 13 lenses, 30 different films, and 18 frames when editing your work. Also awesome is that you can preview your filters live even before you take the shot.

Despite all the functionality, the interface has an intuitive layout. The app also takes full advantage of a multitouch display (some effects require a twisting two-finger motion).

You can edit your photos after taking them, so don't worry if you don't get it right the first time. Even better, you can toggle between the original image and your finished work to compare the differences.

When you're finished, you can share your photos on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Tumblr. You also have the option to save to Dropbox, send directly to an FTP site, send via e-mail, or even turn your image into a postcard (for a fee) and send it anywhere in the world.

Camera+ (99 cents)
If you are looking to leave Instagram for a more full-powered camera app (though one without its own photo-sharing feed), spend a buck on Camera+ and give it a go. It provides an insane amount of control in setting up your shot, and an impressive number of tools to use when tinkering with it afterward. For example, you can set the focus and exposure separately when lining up a shot, using two fingers.

The editing tools are simplified -- no sliders here. In addition to rotating and cropping tools, you simply select a scene and a border to adjust the look of your photos.

There is also a great collection of filters, which give your shots that Instagram feel (there is even a filter called Toy Camera), and you can buy nine additional filters for 99 cents. Your sharing options are limited to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, e-mail, and text message.

Though the developer fixed the major bugs in recent updates, it's still disappointing that you can't see live previews of your selected effects before you take your pictures. Hopefully, we'll get that soon.

Camera Awesome (free)
The awesomely named Camera Awesome app, like Camera+, is more camera app than social photo-sharing app. It delivers professional controls in setting up your shot, and the app can also take video.

The app features a number of preset filters, textures, and frames and you can also manually edit your photos, adjusting the sharpness, temperature, vibrancy, and contrast.

The app is free and includes a limited number of filters; in-app purchases deliver more. Sharing options cover the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, Instagram. You can also share via a site run by the developer, SmugMug, but you can't view a feed of photos shared on SmugMug without exiting the app.


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