Instagram releases half-baked Windows Phone app

Instagram, Instagram, Instagram: What are you doing?

Three years after launching an iOS app, folding itself into Facebook’s enormously powerful and rich arms, adding ambitious new features like video, integrating advertising, and amassing a few hundred million active users, Instagram has at last launched an app for Windows Phone 8. It’s thrilling news for WP users, who have been waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for their favorite apps to release official versions for the platform.

You can't shoot photos in the Windows Phone Instagram app, only upload them from your Camera Roll.

Vine hit the Windows Store last week, and Instagram is officially here. But don’t get too excited.

When you open the app and tap the camera button to take your first shot, Instagram doesn’t open an in-app camera. No, it dumps you into your camera roll, where you can upload a photo you’ve already taken or shoot a snapshot to import into the app. “What the…?” you might think to yourself, because everyone knows that you can take shots straight from the Instagram app. It’s what makes the thing so convenient.

Not for Windows Phone users. Sorry, folks, Instagram for Windows Phone lacks almost all of the features that make Instagram such a joy to use on iOS and Android devices. Not only can you not shoot photos from the app, you can’t shoot and share videos, tag people in photos, or view your geotagged photos on a map.

Guess that’s why Instagram labeled the app “beta” in the Windows Store.

The company obviously knows this isn’t the app people want, and acknowledged as much in a Wednesday blog post: “We wanted to make Instagram available to people with Windows Phones as quickly as possible, so we focused on creating an awesome experience with Instagram’s core features. We’re not finished, and our team will continue developing the Windows Phone app to keep releasing features and bringing you the best Instagram possible.”

In other words: “We’re sorry.” Did Instagram feel rushed to put out a subpar app because Vine beat them to the punch? No one knows for certain, but Twitter’s video-sharing app has clearly won this round. Windows Phone users might be better off using one of the various, super-popular third-party Instagram apps, like 6tag, while waiting for Instagram to finish building out its own app.

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