How to view Instagram on the iPad: Instamap

Instamap is a universal app that lets you view Instagram photos by location, in addition to the requisite tag and user searches.

Instamap provides a few instructions upon first launch. Matt Elliott/CNET

Instamap is a universal app that lets you take an Instagram trip around the world. I don't like it as much as Instagallery , but it's still a fun way to view Instagram photos by location, particularly on the iPad. Here's how it works.

After purchasing the $1.99 app, you'll need to log in to your Instagram account before you can being browsing photos. (Instagallery, in contrast, doesn't require an Instagram account to view photos.) The app works only in landscape mode and is arranged with a menu along the left edge of the display with a large viewing area on the right. The left menu features links to your subscriptions (basically your favorite locations, tags, and users), your Instagram stream, popular photos, and your liked photos. The right area shows either a grid of photo thumbnails or a map with pins dropped where Instagram photos reside; you can toggle between these two views using the Pictures and Map buttons at the top of the screen. The pins on the map change as you select to view popular photos, your stream, or photos from a specific subscription.

From the Map view, you can tap on a pin to see how many photos are in the collection, and tapping on the thumbnail opens the collection, where you can swipe from one image to the next. To see thumbnails of the collection, tap on a pin and then tap the Pictures button at the top of the screen.

A red pin marks the spot: You can hunt on the map for Instagram photos. Matt Elliott/CNET

From the Pictures view, you can tap on a thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo along with the author, tags, and how many comments and likes it has received. You can comment on or like a photo right from the app, and double tapping on a large photo expands it a bit further while hiding the author info and comment. To follow an author, tap on the author's thumbnail, which flips the current photo to reveal a Follow button. You can swipe from image to image, but there is no slideshow feature as you get with Instagallery.

The app starts you off with a handful of subscriptions, from locations such as Paris and London to tags such as #streetart and #door. You can delete these by swiping on them and hitting the Delete button. To add a new subscription, tap the Plus button in the upper-right corner. You can search by location, tag, or user.

Your subscriptions are listed along the left side, and you can toggle between a Pictures (pictured) or Map view on the right. Matt Elliott/CNET

You can't take photos with Instamap; it's strictly for browsing (and commenting on and liking) photos. To test the app, I took a photo out of my office window using Instagram on my iPhone and didn't specify a location and it didn't appear in my Concord, NH, USA subscription on Instamap. I took another one and chose White Park, the park in town that I live next to and--boom!-- the photo immediately popped up in the Concord, NH photos on the iPad. Strangely, when I subscribed to the White Park, Concord NH location, both photos were there.

Viewing by tags is limited. I wanted to see photos from a Phish show I saw in Vermont earlier this week. When I searched for the #phish tag, I see that there are 1,140 photos with that tag, but after I added it to my subscription, there were only 16 photos there. In fact, it would appear that you are returned only 16 photos for any tag you add as a subscription, and more photos are then added as more photos are shared with that tag. Why am I not allowed to browse further back in time?

Likewise, I added San Francisco as a location subscription and was presented with the paltry sum of 15 photos, all taken within the past hour. The number quickly climbed to over 70 in the next 30 minutes, which shows that photo sets are updated as more photos are snapped that fit the criteria, but even 70 is a lackluster number for a city the size of San Francisco, particularly one filled with young, tech-savvy people. And the collection wasn't filled with dazzling images of architecture and nightlight but random shots of people going about their mundane lives. Viewing by tags, I found, resulted in much more focused and interesting photo collections.

The app also proved buggy when returning search results. It crashed a few times when I tried adding a subscription.

In the end, I liked the functionality and stability of Instagallery better. I recommend it over Instamap, unless you are a traveler or just want to search based on location, which is the one thing it does better than Instagallery.

 

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