News Column

Instagram Users Flee

Jan 3, 2013

Shea Conner


According to numbers from AppData, Instagram may have lost about 25 percent of its daily active users since people started revolting over a questionable terms of service change last month.

On Dec. 17, Instagram changed its terms of service to make way for advertising, but it wrote them in a way that users interpreted as a plan to sell their photos. Naturally, users were upset, and thousands threatened to quit using the photo service. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom quickly retracted the changes, saying, "It is not our intention to sell your photos."

Still, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service, which is one of the most popular apps across mobile devices, dropped from 16.4 million daily users to 12.4 million users the week after the announcement, according to AppData's metrics.

If you're one of the folks who have decided to ditch Instagram, have no fear! There are lots of free alternatives out there. And, believe it or not, some of them edit and filter images far better than Instagram while offering more options.

Here's a look at Instagram's competition.

Pixlr-o-Matic (

Of the Instagram rivals mentioned in this article, Pixlr-o-Matic lets users do the most despite its lack of social networking capabilities. Seriously, this photo program boasts a ton of features that you can play around with. You can apply one of 100 filters, 342 film effects and choose from 210 border styles.

Simply upload an image from your computer or even take an image with your webcam (no sign-up is required, as it is with Snapseed and PicYou) and experiment with the many effects the site has to offer. Once you have the image looking just the way you want it, you can save it to your computer or save it online to the integrated storage service, An additional bonus: No matter how much you toy with a photo in Pixlr-o-Matic, the program never reduces the file size. So, you still have high-resolution photos no matter how different the end result looks compared to the original image.

In December 2012, Pixlr-o-Matic apps were released for the iPhone and for Android devices.

Snapseed (

This free photo editing app owned by Google offers a great deal more flexibility in editing images than most free filter programs. It not only has a range of filters but also has control that lets you customize each effect.

Although it has one button for sharing to Google's social site Google+, you need a workaround to share to Facebook and Twitter. All you have to do is save your completed photo, then you can go find it in your gallery. Share it from there as you would any photo. It is available for Android devices and iPhones.

Hipster (

Similar to Instagram, AOL-owned Hipster features dozens of filters and borders for your photos. You can take a photo within the app or edit a photo you've already taken with your phone's camera.

The unique thing about Hipster is that it turns your photos into virtual postcards, allowing you to use geo-location to mark where you took the photo on your postcard. You also can add whatever text you want to the image and then share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr. Users can connect to friends within the app and see what photos their friends are taking (and where).

PicYou (

With PicYou -- the most recently launched of these sites -- you can sign up using your Twitter or Facebook account to apply filters to your images. PicYou offers a choice of nine cool vintage, sepia and grungy filters with names like "Hipster," "Infatuation" and "Cuttlefish." PicYou also lets you apply the filter to the image with the dimensions as is, or you can add a Polaroid-like frame to the image, just as Instagram does.

If you do choose to use a frame, PicYou also gives you complete control over which part of the image is cropped. After selecting your filter, you can add a title, tags and auto-share the image with your connected accounts.

PicYou itself also is a social network where you can follow other users, add images to your favorites and leave comments. The site also makes it incredibly easy to share images posted on PicYou pretty much anywhere on the Web.

Rollip (

Rollip is another site you can use without having to sign up at all. But Rollip does things a bit backwards. First, you choose one of 40 filters, after which you can upload your image to see how it looks. You can then easily share the image on Facebook or save the image to your computer to share wherever you like.

Instant Retro (

Like Pixlr-o-Matic, you don't have to sign up to use Instant Retro. You can simply upload your images and get to work. However, the photo editing process on this site is different than the other options listed here. Rather than providing specific filters to apply to your images, Instant Retro allows you to tweak and adjust certain settings to give your images a vintage look. Once you're done, you can save the image on the site.

Source: (c)2013 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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