Right now, you could be forgiven for thinking of Instagram as a kind of be-all end-all when it comes to photo editing and sharing. It has the biggest user base, the most celebrities using it publicly of any photo sharing app, and its owned by Facebook, so it is also one of the wealthiest photo sharing apps.
However, there’s a lot to be dissatisfied with when it comes to Instagram. In the first place, when it was acquired by Facebook, its terms of service were changed and it started selling your photos and information to third parties. Also, although Facebook has said that it manages Instagram independently of itself and the dealings of the two companies aren’t too entangled, the ties between the two companies still, by nature, are deeply rooted. This means that if, like me, you’re too paranoid to use Facebook, you’ll probably be too paranoid to use Instagram as well.
While Instagram pioneered hashtags on photos and certain retro filter looks, their selection when it comes to sharing and editing your photos can pale in comparison to some of the other apps available. It’s often true that the biggest of anything isn’t necessarily the best, and this there’s no exception here. Here are ten photo sharing apps that are as good or possibly better than Instagram for you to check out.
The Top 10 Alternatives to Instagram – 2018 List
#10 – EyeEm
Sometimes scrolling through Instagram can make you feel like you’re wasting your life. Endless selfies and advertisements and celebrity photos are a fine way to pass the time, but don’t really improve your life or contribute to your happiness. EyeEm seeks to provide a more productive photo sharing experience, by pairing users with a base of professional photographers and high-quality images. What sets EyeEm apart is that, if you let them, they will sell your photos to other members of the network for $10 each. $10 is kept for yourself, and $10 goes to EyeEm. Your photos could be used for websites or advertisements or personal use. This benefits those selling the photos as it allows them to make a little extra money on photos they would be sharing anyway, and it allows those buying licenses to the photos a chance to own the rights to some great photography for their own use.
#9 – Retrica
Retrica has a lot in common with Instagram when it comes to its photo editing capabilities, especially with filters. It has one defining feature that Instagram doesn’t have which is the ability to apply filters before taking photos, whereas Instagram only allows you to apply filters retroactively. This gives you the ability to see, on your screen, what the photo will look like filtered, and make stylistic adjustments accordingly, which is a good option for anyone who takes their filters seriously. Aside from that, Retrica offers much of the same simplistic functionality as Instagram.
#8 – Negatives
To go along with the sites that are presented as alternatives to Instagram, there are sites that piggyback to Instagram platform in an attempt to fix Instagram’s weaknesses. Negatives offers an update to the Instagram home feed. Instead of scrolling through individual photos, which can be a time-consuming, random experience, it allows you to scroll through your friends individually if you want. All of your friends’ photos are presented on what is stylized as a roll of film (hence the name) so you can quickly swipe through your list of friends (which is automatically imported from Instagram) and see what everyone that you follow is up to.
#7 – Pixlr
Pixlr is one of the best Instagram alternatives if what you’re looking for are editing tools. The layout of Pixlr is clean and intuitive, but you can perform tasks like layering photos over each other, edit existing photos however you like, and draw and colour images using paint-like features. Pixlr’s features end up being much like the kind of editing software you’d find on a computer, but in a lightweight, easy-to-use mobile form. The downside of this app is that it doesn’t have very good import or export capabilities, and it doesn’t have a good network. What you’ll likely want to do is edit your photos with Pixlr and then take them somewhere else to share.
#6 – Snapchat
I know, I know. Comparing Snapchat to Instagram is like comparing oranges to pears; they were created for entirely different purposes. Instagram is all about chronicling your life and cultivating an image; Snapchat is all about impermanence and risk-free nudes. Over seven billion snapchat videos are viewed every day, making it one of the most widely used apps in the world. If you aren’t interested in crafting an online persona or jazzing up how your life looks to others, which is what Instagram absolutely specializes in, Snapchat is the perfect photo sharing app for people who are just looking to share their photos temporarily with their close friends. Snapchat also excels if you’re the type of person who likes to be naked in photos. Instagram accounts that post sexually-themed photos are often removed by the moderators, which is a huge annoyance for Instagram users who have spent years collecting followers. On Snapchat, there’s no censorship when it comes to nudity as there’s nobody looking at your photos except your friends and probably the NSA. Snapchat also offers a lot in the way of comedic filters; on Instagram you don’t have the same ability to have rainbows pour out of your mouth or swap faces with your poodle.
#5 – Snapseed
Two apps in a row with “snap” in the title, but Snapchat and Snapseed really aren’t similar at all. Snapseed is owned by Google, so it makes sense that it’s one of the chief rivals of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. It’s widely regarded as the best free photo editing app because of its sophisticated layout, easy application of filters and editing tools, and frequent updates so it’s always running smoothly and without glitches. What’s the catch? Like Pixlr, it doesn’t have great exporting capabilities, and it doesn’t have a social network based around it, so if you’re looking to share your edited images, you’ll have to accomplish that with one of the other apps on this list.
#4 – Hipstamatic
This is one of the most annoyingly-named apps I’ve come across, but when it comes to the social side of things, Hipstamatic offers sharing possibilities that are more interesting than what most other apps have to offer. After you’re done editing and applying filters to your images (most of which cater to some kind of “hipster” aesthetic, whatever that even means) you can share your images to any of a group of networking apps that fall within the Hipstamatic umbrella. These apps include Cinamatic, Incredibooth, Oggl, and more. Oggl may be the most interesting of these. It gives you the ability to locate and connect with like-minded photographers across the world, so that you can share ideas with and draw inspiration from those who’s photos interest you. Both a free and a paid version of the app are available.
#3 – VSCO Cam
Remember back when Instagram was only available on iPhones? It was the reason some people were hesitant to get Android phones; for some, it seemed unthinkable to miss out on the Instagram network. Now, the elitism that iPhone users enjoyed with Instagram is gone, as Instagram has been available to Android users for years. However, some of that elitism lives on with VSCO Cam, which has somehow cultivated a reputation of being the way the cool kids are sharing their photos. Users of the photo editing app will usually share their photos on Instagram and Twitter using the #vscocam hashtag. In this way, VSCO Cam has built a social network by using other social networks, as fans of the app will search for other VSCO Cam users on their preferred social networking sites. There are valid reasons for VSCO Cam’s large, loyal fanbase. It offers its own built in camera that has interesting features, and it has more powerful editing capabilities than Instagram does. It also has its own camera roll, so you can keep track of which images you’ve edited with VSCO Cam.
#2 – Twitter
Twitter may seem like a strange choice on this list as it’s mainly a text-based network, and many of the photos on it aren’t of particularly high quality. However, in an attempt to keep stride with Instagram as its popularity swelled, Twitter aped some of Instagram’s editing and filter capabilities, effectively creating a lite version of Instagram to go along with all the features that have made Twitter popular on its own. Twitter has massive reach, a very active user base, and really great communities. When you pair that with the ability to tweak your photos and share them effectively, it ends up being one of the best alternatives to Instagram as a photo sharing app.
#1 – Flickr
Flickr has been, and will likely continue to be, the app best suited to challenge Instagram as the top photo sharing app currently available. Flickr is a free app that offers you an incredible one terabyte of free cloud storage for your files without any fees or strings attached whatsoever. This allows you to upload all of your photos and videos to Flickr for safekeeping, freeing up space on your phone to store other things. When you take a photo using Flickr, the app redirects you to your phone’s built in camera app, and then, once you’ve taken your picture, sends you back to Flickr for editing. Flickr has great editing capabilities and tons of filters, so you can share your edited photos with Flickr’s community, or whatever other social network you prefer. Perhaps most importantly, Flickr is great when it comes to the digital rights of your photos. You can choose whether you’d like to retain all the rights to your photos, license out yourself, or make them freely available to anyone. This contrasts with Instagram and Facebook’s policies of snatching the rights to whatever you upload the second that you upload them.
Despite the alternatives offered here, Instagram is still one of the best places to edit and share your photos. A sense of use and familiarity with the app will have many feeling like making the switch to a different photo sharing network would be an automatic downgrade. However, if you’re tired of Instagram’s community, freaked out about its lack of respect for your rights, or frustrated with its inferior editing capabilities, the 2018 list above should provide the ability to potentially have a better photo-sharing experience than what is available using Instagram.