I'm not a professional photographer by any means, but I do love to take pictures. Years ago I used to post my best photos to Instagram because that was the cool place to be and you could easily find great photographers there. It was always an app I could open and know I would see something cool and I'd just feel…happy.
The app seemed to push people to take better photos too, and while sometimes that meant using intense filters or seeing just how far to the right we could pull that clarity slider in Lightroom, scrolling through the app was a non-stop dose of inspiration.
But over time Instagram changed. Snapchat and TikTok started to eat Instagram's lunch. Both of these newer services leaned into more raw photography and video. The finely crafted photos and videos from Instagram weren't as well suited to these new services, and people loved them! And since Instagram is owned by Facebook and needs to be as big as humanly possible, Instagram started chasing those apps.
Today not only has the Instagram app become less focused on beautiful photography, but it has tons of ads, professional photographers across the board are reporting less engagement on their work than before, and the head of Instagram recently said the app just isn't about photography anymore. Now obviously he was trying to say it was not only about photography anymore, but it's pretty clear that Instagram is more concerned with fending off Snapchat and TikTok than improving the photo experience.
This is where Glass comes in, a new photo sharing app that is explicitly targeting those of us who feel like Instagram is no longer serving our needs. Here's what you need to know about Glass.
- It's a photo sharing app for the iPhone. No video and no photo sets, you can share one photo at a time. When looking at a photo, you can see the description left by the photographer as well as the EXIF data from the camera that shot the photo.
- There is no Android or web apps yet, but they're coming.
- It's not free. Membership is $5/month or $30/year. The annual price will increase to $50 sometimes after launch.
- The app shows a chronological list of photos from people you follow, that's it. No algorithms, no ads, and no A.I.s suggesting things in your feed.
- If you do want to find someone to follow, there is a whole other tab with a list of suggested accounts. These appear to be accounts the app makers like, not ones based on who you already follow.
- There are basically no metrics in the app. You don't know how many people liked a photo, how many followers people have, and you can't even see how many followers you have! In short, this is not a popularity contest.
- You can't even like a photo in the first place. The only interaction is to leave a comment. This makes it harder to show appreciation for the shots you like, but it also makes it feel more engaging since you find yourself trying to think of something to say to people. Why did you like it? Do you have a question about the gear used? It's very clever.
- You do have a notification feed that shows you comments on your photos as well as who has followed you recently. The service is still very young, so there's a lot of friendly commenting and follow-backs happening right now.
- There are also no hashtags. This is actually something I hope they add in some form later, since finding types of photographers is always nice. Let's just lock it down maybe so we don't get 30 hashtags in every post like you have to do on Instagram.
- The app has a simple, but effective share extension that lets you share to the service from your Photos app with ease.
- The app just looks really nice. Photos are the star of the show, and they take up the whole screen, and nothing in your feed is cropped.
- Glass is invite only right now, so you need to know someone to get in. Each user gets 3 invites when they sign up, and I've sadly used mine up already, but you can ask around on Twitter and likely find someone who has an invite to spare and can get you in. Just make sure you use the @tryglass handle to make it more likely people find your tweet!