Instagram (iPhone | Android) is a popular photo enhancement app that requires only a couple of touches to produce retro-looking images and then share them with friends and other Instagram members. A new version of the app adds new cropping tools and a camera upgrade for iOS, and a new filter for both iOS and Android. But what's really special about the Instagram phenomenon is how users have used the app to create a story about their everyday lives through stylized photos.
You start by signing up with Instagram with an e-mail address, username, and password. From there you can configure Instagram to autopost to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Posterous, or just choose to share images from within the app or via e-mail. You can also turn any of these options on or off if you don't want to share your shots with everyone.
Once you're connected, you'll be able to snap a photo wherever you are, move and scale the image, add an effect with a touch of your finger, and then touch Done to share your photographic moment with the world. The app comes with several free custom-designed filters that can give your image various retro effects, a grainy black-and-white look, or even adjustable tilt-shift options. The latest version adds a grainy black-and-white filter called Willow (for both iOS and Android), giving you one more option for photos with that old-timey look. When you're satisfied with your shot, you can add a caption along with geotagging, then share it right away.
Even with just the features mentioned, this free app would already be easy to recommend, but a couple of added features make it even better. Once signed up with Instagram, you can follow other Instagram users on the Feed page, which shows recent images taken by you and your friends. Here you can comment and "like" photos and Facebook integration means you can also "like" it on Facebook. Switch tabs to look at a Popular list that shows all the most popular Instagram images from all users. You can search for tags and users in the recently added Explore section. You also can look at a News tab, which shows the latest actions by your connected friends (liked, commented, or otherwise), so you can see what your friends are currently looking at. These features make Instagram an app you might look at every day, just to see what your friends are up to.