From the early builds of BlackBerry 10 – as far back as the Z10 launch rather, the first ported application many of us went to was Instagram. On the Z10 it looked pretty good and a lot of the functions seems to work perfectly fine. Over time we saw video recording finally work without crashes and even all updates for Android worked ok as BB10 continued to keep a pretty tip top Android Player in the OS.
So when did the Instagram struggle begin? For me and I’m sure others – it was originally the BlackBerry Q10, which followed the BlackBerry Z10 in a familiar and iconic BlackBerry keyboard experience. With that said, the screen was indeed smaller to accommodate for the physical keyboard. Instagram would work, but you would have to scroll up and down when viewing a single photo since it wouldn’t all fit in the screen. Since it was just a secondary device for me, and I would always switch back to the BlackBerry Z10 (or later released Z30), the resolution issue never bothered much. Later on in life (just this September) I began using the BlackBerry Passport full time just for the love of the new 10.3 features, aspect ratio of the 1440×1440 screen and the new keyboard experience. Instagram seems to have the same issues because of the 1:1 aspect ration screen, meaning you had to still scroll up and down for Instagram photo viewing.
My immediate solution? iGrann. Surely iGrann has been out for quite some time now, but I never actually gave it a full on test drive. I did try some of the early beta releases, but really had no issue with the native experience so had no real return to it in all honesty. First I started off with the standard and free iGrann and was surprised and most definitely impressed with the development improvements since its early release beta builds way before its BlackBerry World launch.
The free application was full-on pretty much everything you want or need in Instagram, and yes photos on the Passport are proportional enough to view in a single frame with no need to scroll down. The premium iGrann Pro includes some additional features, which made me go for the gold immediately. Features such as headless support and BlackBerry Hub notifications were exactly what did it for me. There’s a couple others which you can view in BlackBerry World if you’ve decided to go ahead with the purchase.
Getting notifications was definitely a plus, since I was too comfortable on the Instagram Android port without notifications at all.
Downside? There’s no video record option in iGrann at this time. I’m not saying it won’t ever come around or anything like that, but it’s a small feature that I do not use much to begin with so I’m left unbothered.
The Hub Experience:
I noticed when getting friend requests, not only was I getting a notification in the Hub, but I could also choose my action there – Accept/Reject), all from the Hub without needing to enter the application. Really awesome with the deep layer of functionality where some other developers say Hub notifications supported and all you get is the generic bell icon in Hub and you need to open the application up for the actionable item.
For comment mentions, tags, etc. the post is also made available in Hub without needing to enter the application. Again, another example of deep integration here without needing to go into the application and keep it all simplified from the Hub. Those actions could be the Like button or adding a comment to the particular photo you received a notification for.
How about being able to use all native filters when posting photos? BlackBerry has had a whole defaulted set of photo filters with additional granular options you can tweak right out of the box. These work great in iGrann, and while Instagram has started catching up on the manual filtering by increasing/decreasing filters, the native BlackBerry 10 options still appeal to me more – and at the very least will match up to what Instagram offers.
Yes, so headless applications are supposed to drain your battery since they’re always running in the background right? Well, if the application is developed right then it really shouldn’t be battery draining. I haven’t had much consumption on the battery side here in all honesty, but maybe that’s because I’m not as active on Instagram as others are. In short, I haven’t noticed any battery life impacts here at all, but you be the judge of it for yourself.
Why both apps?
I mentioned in the title having “both” applications. Personally I still have the Android ported Instagram hanging around, mainly for that rainy day if I ever do need to record a video, or utilize the Direct feature for sending media to one person directly. Rare occasions for me, but it never hurt to keep the second one around. Or who knows, maybe Instagram will natively work one day without the need to scroll to view photos. Would I still use iGrann? Most definitely yes – and the reasons are all that have been mentioned, being mainly around the headless support and proper Hub notifications with actions.
As mentioned, iGrann comes in two flavors – free edition without headless support or Hub notifications and iGrann Pro which includes those features as well as others. Links to both below, but the Pro edition is what you really want to go with for only $1.99.