apps Archives

  1. Thinking Outside the Box: Instagram’s Addition of Landscape & Portrait Modes

    Yesterday’s update to Instagram includes added support for landscape and portrait photos. It is a big change, and I think there will be users who like the change and others who do not.

    While a few of the accounts I follow occasionally post landscape or portrait photos by shrinking them to a square format (and adding black or white space to fill in the unused space), I have always stuck to posting photos that fit the square format. To some degree, I would even say it would feel like I were cheating if I posted a non-square photo in this fashion.

    I always use Instagram to edit my photos before I post them. Some might even say that I obsess over it. But I never “cheat”.

    When the Rumblers drove to West Virginia last weekend, I was chilling out in the back seat, taking my time to edit some wildflower photos until they were as close to perfect as I could get them. I spent so much time doing this, that I actually wondered if my band-mates were thinking “how can he possibly be dicking around on his phone for this long?”

    I really wanted to post a photo of Colorado Blue Columbine to my Instagram account. But I resisted the temptation.

    In June my Dad took us on a drive across the Alpine Plateau in Montrose County, Colorado. He said to watch for Columbine, and sure enough, we spotted a pair of them out the Jeep window sitting side-by-side. He pulled over so I could take a picture. The two flowers were pristine, with the light shining on them. I couldn’t choose which one to take a photo of, so I captured both, thinking I would be able to crop the photo later.

    Nope. This was a *perfect* landscape photo. And it didn’t make the cut for Instagram.

    I can remember one or two times where I used the zoom to tastefully crop a photo to a square (by my standards). But cropping the Colorado Blue Columbine wouldn’t do it justice. Not only could I not choose to crop one of the two flowers in the photo over the other, but I could not show one in the square border without a portion of the other flower weaseling its way into the picture. Was the quality of the photo worthy of Instagram? Absolutely. But, I didn’t post it.

    Will portrait and landscape photos change Instagram? I think so. But my concern is not rectangular photos themselves. It’s that the ability to add landscape and portrait photos will mean an increase in photos that are not “Instagram worthy”. I suspect we’ll see less choosy shots, more that could still use some editing, more selfies, and those types of pictures that are simply more suited for Facebook or Snapchat — other mediums with other purposes.

    And so, I sit on the fence with the new release. Fortunately, it is happening long after I have began using Instagram — my first post was 201 weeks ago. I say this because Instagram trained me to think harder while I am taking a photo. For example, nearly wildflower I shoot — (if a hobbiest photographer with an iPhone 5S is even allowed to even call it that) — is set with Instagram’s square frame in mind.

    Perhaps the new release will help me see things outside of the box.

    (via The Verge)

  2. 1Password Message Center

    Today’s iOS update of 1Password includes a Message Center.

    Message Center is essentially a mechanism to notify the user of important app updates or tips on how to get the most from the app. A counter over the Settings icon shows how many new (unread) messages are sitting in the Message Center, allowing you to read them at your own leisure.

    I would love to see other apps adopt a feature similar to Message Center. Too frequently, I run new app features that I didn’t know existed. Or worse: I open an app that went through a revision overnight, only to stumble into an entirely new and unfamiliar user interface.

    Other apps roll out revisions with a welcome or “how to” screen to explain new features. This is a more user friendly way of saying “the app is different from the last time you used it”, but it can be especially annoying to run into this kind of screen when you are in the middle of something. If I’m opening an app and am in a hurry (i.e. to pull-up an electronic airline ticket), the last thing I want to do is run through a forced tour of the app’s new features.

    I think 1Password’s Message Center sets a new bar on how app designers will roll out new features to their customers.