Want to check out Instagrams from celebrities, artists, brands, or specific topics without cluttering your main feed? Instafeed’s free iOS app lets you build and browse custom feeds of Instagram accounts or enjoy pre-curated feeds in a bunch of categories.
It demonstrates how Instagram is more than an app. It’s a platform that lets developers fill in gaps in its user experience.
Instafeed comes by way of Appiphany, a year-old startup co-founded and funded with $200,000 by Fahad Al Saud. He’s one of the princes of Saudi Arabia, a former Facebook employee, and a friend of Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom from college at Stanford.
Al Saud and his two teammates Ranier Gadduang and Daniel Corsaro started Appiphany as a super-lean startup designed to exploit holes in top mobile experiences. It’s first app PicTag made it easy to search your camera roll, and now it’s building on Instagram. Gadduang tells me “We see Instagram as a great platform for creating content, but in terms of consuming content there’s a little bit left on the table. You either follow someone or you don’t. It’s binary, and you can only discover content through people you follow or the popular page.”
Instafeed provides another way to interact. It lets you search for Instagram users and add them to custom feeds you can read. It’s like Twitter Lists or Facebook Friends Lists for Instagram, offering an alternative browsing experience to your main feed.
For example, I follow a lot of acquaintances and artists on Instagram, so I built a Best Friends Instafeed list to give me a stream of people I care most about. Sometimes I just want pretty pictures, so I made a list called True Artists. It’s filled with Instagram virtuosos I find inspiring on occasion, but whose frequent posts I don’t want drowning out everyone else I follow.
To get you started, Instafeed offers pre-curated lists of the best content creators in areas like food, pets, and fashion. There’s also lists of active celebrity ‘grammers, pro sports teams, and “Beauties & Bombshells”. You can pick and choose accounts from these to check out, but oddly you can’t just “subscribe all” and read an entire curated feed. One extra feature that comes in handy is the ability to repost any photo you see in Instafeed to your own followers.
Clutter is an inherent problem with unfiltered feeds like Instagram or Twitter. As an app, Instafeed’s solution gets the job done well. But as a startup, Appiphany is skating on thin ice. Instagram could release a list creation feature at any time, essentially steamrolling Instafeed. If the app grew massively popular and became a serious competitor for engagement, Instagram could also shut off its API access.
This all makes Instafeed’s future uncertain. Yet at present the startup is focused solely on growth, it’s a free app so it’s not making any money, and Gadduang said he hadn’t thought much about how it would monetize down the line. That’s going to make it tough to raise additional funding from outside investors, which Gadduang says it’s looking to do. Users therefore might be weary of spending too much time meticulously curated custom feeds.
For now, though, Instafeed is a solid download for Instagram power users. We’re all becoming phonetographers, and Instafeed lets you explore what the world is seeing.