It's 2023! Instagram should create an iPad app

Instagram is a twelve-year-old iPhone app. As 2023 approaches, the refusal to create an iPad version that isn't just the web remains perplexing.

Despite Meta's best efforts, Instagram has remained a popular alternative to Facebook and Twitter. Something about the limitations of most photo and video sharing feels healthier. Instagram, which debuted the same year as the iPad, is also a twelve-year-old iPhone app. As 2023 approaches, the refusal to create an iPad version that isn't just the web remains perplexing.

Instagram-made iPad apps

It makes perfect sense. Instagram is great for sharing our favorite photos and videos, and iPads are great for enjoying both. Instagram Stories are even more enjoyable (despite being ripped off from Snapchat). And while IGTV was a flop, a tablet version would have been nice if it hadn't been!

Facebook and Instagram are aware of the iPad's existence. Facebook does a passable job of supporting Facebook and Messenger on the iPad, and Instagram even created two iPad camera apps — Hyperlapse and Boomerang — but not the main app.

(Instagram's Layout app is also excellent. Many people, I've noticed, use free, ad-supported alternatives with watermarks over the collage. Even if you don't want to post to Instagram, switch to Layout.)

Instagram killed iPad apps

The lack of a dedicated Instagram for iPad app used to be an opportunity for developers.

Retro for Instagram, for example, was a fantastic solution until Instagram changed its API, allowing developers to use the service in their apps. Instagram dominated the market for iPad app alternatives despite not developing its own.


Web apps aren't apps

One argument is that saving Instagram's "progressive web app" to your Home screen is sufficient. It's okay, but native apps simply have more capabilities.

The iPhone version can also be run in a comically letterboxed window or scaled up at the expense of resolution fidelity, but there is no landscape support and many iPads are now attached to keyboards.

There's a better way

Another argument against Instagram for iPad is that it is a legacy technology issue: the photo quality may be too low to display properly on a tablet display. I'm not sure; it could be a legacy argument now. So much time has elapsed...

If that's the case, that's a problem that could easily be solved! Instagram could send a grid of photos with ads interspersed! More advertisements on a larger screen! That is my best Instagram pitch.

Parker Ortolani's brilliant concept is yet another excellent example of how Instagram could adapt its iPhone app for the iPad without sacrificing visual fidelity on the big screen. I'd love to be able to sit and browse photos and videos on Instagram for iPad in such a dense layout with native resolution.

I don't think there's any chance of the Gotham filter returning, but I'm confident that Instagram for iPad is on the way. Instagram for iPad must be next on the list now that video, messaging, Stories, group video calling, walkie-talkie, and hundreds of other features are now available as a result of Instagram's decision to aggressively compete with Snapchat. 

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