updated 05:55 pm EDT, Sun March 11, 2012
Instagram on Android briefly shown at SXSW
Instagram's co-creator Kevin Systrom used a presentation at South by Southwest's technology conference to show the Android version of the company's app. Currently in a closed beta, it will support multiple screen resolutions and should run very quickly. Although shy on what it meant, he hinted that there would be some features that the iOS edition was so far lacking, if not permanently going without.
"In some ways, it's better than our iPhone app," Systrom told the Austin audience.
He wouldn't give a timetable for an open beta or a final release, other than to say it was coming "really soon."
The company co-founder reiterated his view that Instagram had kept to the iOS version since its launch in 2010 in order to focus on the basics of scaling the platform and coping with the sheer number of users. Instagram now had a total of 27 million users, helped in part by good timing. As mentioned before, the app launched near the iPhone 4, which became one of the most popular cameras in web sharing and fed an appetite for camera-friendly apps. The service saw upswings again in 2011, both through the launch of the iPhone 4S and after Apple named Instagram its iPhone app of the year.
Android already has rough parallels to Instagram, such as the photo side of Path as well as Picplz, but none have scaled to the same size as Instagram's iOS app. Difficulties discovering apps in Android Market (now the Google Play Store) and a less consistent hardware platform may have hurt exposure for these relative to a more monolithic platform like iOS.