I know I’m going to take some heat for this but – I can’t stand Instagram. But, before you start sending me hatemail, I did try it out on my latest trip. I tried using it for about three days before deleting it from the HTC (I’m not a big fan of iPhones, either, so maybe it’s a mental defect?) and adding Lightbox, which I LOVED. But – like all good things, it came to an end rather abruptly and I wasn’t none to pleased.
Why don’t I like Instagram? I have a home in a variety of social networking sites. As a travel writer, I like to share photos of my trips so people can get excited about the upcoming article. I really love to share photos of the food I eat along the way. There are so many foodies out there, it’s not even funny anymore but I’m a REAL foodie. When I’m planning a trip, I couldn’t care less about the cost of the hotel room; I’m all about the food along the way.
“$15,000 a night? Really? Does that include a full breakfast?”
But I’m getting off track here.
Anyway, Instagram doesn’t link up with Pinterest and that’s kind of a big one for me. Also, during my trial phase of Instagram, I had trouble getting it to integrate with Twitter. I’m a huge fan of Twitter and I take care of my ‘tweeps’. I RT them, they RT me… It’s a symbiotic relationship. Also, the fastest way to get me to RT you on Twitter is to give me photos. On my personal account, which I don’t go to as often as I should, I am followed by Andrew Zimmern‘s personal account. Even were he not a celebrity, he would get my vote, time after time, as the absolute best tweeter in the whole wide world not just because he shares a lot of photos but because he shares a lot of photos of… Wait for it… FOOD!
In addition to the problems with Twitter, Instagram kept wanting to link up with my personal social networking accounts even though I didn’t set them up in my cell phone when I upgraded a couple of months ago. I don’t know HOW it made the connection but I wanted to post photos to the magazine’s social networking sites and Instagram was all about NOT doing that.
So, as I said, Instagram was quickly deleted in favor of Lightbox, that was, to me, much more intuitive and user-friendly. It also linked up with the magazine’s sites and not my personal ones. It still didn’t have Pinterest but I was much, much happier. Then, the unimaginable happened mere days after I fell in love with Lightbox; Facebook bought it and promptly shut it down. I was CRUSHED! I had found an easier, more efficient way to share photos with my fans/followers/family/people I pay to like me and it was GONE!
I spent most of yesterday looking for a viable alternative to Lightbox since I was already convinced Instagram stank to high heaven. After bouncing around Google Play (their app market) on my cell and trying out several programs, each one more disappointing than the last, I landed on what I now call “My Sanity and Salvation”, Streamzoo, a photo sharing app developed by a company called Phonezoo, out of Silicon Valley.
Streamzoo doesn’t have all the fun add-ons I found on Lightbox but it was certainly easier to use than Instagram. It also shares across the major social networking sites and seems to do so with no struggle at all. Pinterest isn’t one of the sites photos are shared on but I downloaded their Pinterest sharing app and find that to be a viable alternative, for now.
Why is it Streamzoo stood out to me? I think it had something to do with my addiction to Foursquare. Badges, points and bragging rights. The magazine’s Foursquare account did start out as my personal account a couple of years ago and me, unwilling to start from scratch after two years of tutelage to gaining points and badges, refused to start a new account. I was delighted (Delighted, I tell you!) to see Streamzoo also allows for points and badges, and you can also follow streams, other, uh… Zooers? and like their photos, for which YOU receive points as well as they. There are some travel writers whom I see on different press trips and it’s turned into a bit of a competition for us to see who can check-in first at each place. We also help each other gain badges and extra points for multiple check-ins. I see a future with Streamzoo that I couldn’t imagine with Instagram.
Another reason I love Streamzoo is its integration with Twitter. In fact, there are badges one can earn as a member of Streamzoo that are awarded BECAUSE you used certain hashtags. Some of the hashtags awarding badges are #beach, #dog, #cat, #sunset and (my personal favorite) #food, to name only a handful of many. There are also badges related to your sociability not just in Streamzoo but other social networking sites. Get 30 likes on a photo and you get a badge. 10,000 likes on all your photos gets another badge. Develop a group of fellow Streamzooers and you have a badge awarded.
But WAIT! There’s more! Before uploading, Streamzoo gives you the opportunity to alter/edit the photo. There aren’t as many edit features as could be found in Lightbox but I was pretty happy with the choices. You can alter the appearance of each upload by giving a sepia or B&W filter – according to their developer site, it has 18 filters, 15 borders, 6 crop shapes, the ability to tilt, editing made possible for hue, saturation, brightness and contrast and it’s all free, all the time.
All this being said, I’m firmly ensconced into Streamzoo and I sincerely hope they don’t sell out the way Lightbox did, letting money mean more than a quality product. I’ve only uploaded one photo, thus far, to my Streamzoo account because I was anxious to get a badge but I intend to use this app so much more than any other app on my phone.
I gave this a four-star rating in Google Play. Why not five-stars if I love it so much? It doesn’t integrate with Pinterest. Give me that and I’ll give it that fifth star, with bells on!
Update (21 May 2012) – I sent an e-mail to Streamzoo not long after I wrote this article asking just WHY there was no Pinterest integration? Within mere hours (Microsoft and Facebook could learn from these guys) I received an e-mail from one of their staff explaining to me Pinterest didn’t have a public API so integration could take place. I then sent an e-mail to Pinterest asking WHY they didn’t have a public API? Within mere minutes (again – Microsoft? Facebook?) I received an automatic response that immediately directed me to a page in their site explaining they are looking for beta developers for their soon-to-be public API. I sent that to the kind person from Streamzoo who responded immediately – (Dare I say it?) they appreciated my sending them the information and they were getting on the list to become a beta developer. So – is Pinterest integration not far behind?
All this being said – I change my vote from four stars to five simply because it’s not Streamzoo’s fault they can’t integrate with Pinterest; it’s the fault of Pinterest. However, given the way Pinterest reacted to the very public backlash that occurred when they began over corpyrights and their terms of service (which was actually boilerplate on most websites, really. Read the TOS of ANY subscriber-based website and you’ll never post anywhere again, lest you have your personal AND copyrighted materials stolen and made into an ad on Facebook), I believe Pinterest will get ahead of this. The public interest in a site like Pinterest is on the rise, particularly for those of us who are adults wishing to maintain a semi-professional appearance, and Pinterest responds very well to the needs of their subscribers.