The Instagram team has today announced Layout from Instagram, the latest photo-sharing app from the Facebook-owned social networking company.
Following in the footsteps of the popular Hyperlapse app, for creating and sharing time-lapse videos, this new free stand-alone offering allows users to combine multiple still images into simple collage-style layouts for sharing online. Using a collage can often help your Instagram post tell a story more effectively than a single image, making it more engaging for your followers.
On opening the Layout app, you can scroll through eleven pre-made layouts to pick your favourite. Alternatively, you can tap on images in your camera roll and the app will automatically build them into various layout previews as you go, leaving you to select the one you like best at the end.
Rather than scrolling through your entire camera roll, you can use the optional “Faces” view, which uses facial detection (but not facial recognition) to help the app pluck out all the images from your camera roll featuring people. Alternatively, you can select “Recents” for a view containing up to 30 of your most recently used images.
The app then lets you freely move, resize, zoom, mirror and flip each image before tapping “save” to keep the finished result on your device. You can now tap one of the icons below to share your creation directly to Instagram, Facebook or any other photo sharing methods set up on your device. There’s no need to have an Instagram or Facebook account, as you can use a saved layout just like any other image in your camera roll.
The app also features a built-in “Photo Booth” feature which lets you take a sequence of up to four photos in selfie mode which are then dropped directly into the layout previews. It provides a brief “Get Ready” message before flashing the screen for each photo, allowing you to change your pose – much like in a real-world photo booth. It seems to be limited to using the front-facing camera though, which is disappointing if you want to make a quick collage of something other than selfies.
The app is simple and effective, and is sure to spark a rapid increase in the number of collage images posted to Instagram in the near future.
The Instagram team draws inspiration from the many similar photo apps already available, several of which provide far greater functionality and complexity.
Layout offers only very basic designs in simple, rectilinear formats, whereas competing apps like InstaCollage, Moldiv and Instavid, offer more advanced features such as complex layouts with irregular shapes, custom frames, built-in photo editing, video clips, text and stickers.
However, it’s the simplicity and familiarity of Layout which makes it so appealing. Its basic options will be plenty for those who just want to quickly throw a few images together without having to learn a complicated app, and it’s therefore set to eat into the customer base of competing apps despite its reduced functionality.
There’s still plenty of room for competing apps to thrive, and being a stand-alone product which must be downloaded from the App Store just like the competition, Layout isn’t leveraging any advantage that could be gained by being built into the main Instagram app.
As is often the case with Instagram’s own-brand apps, Layout from Instagram is currently only available on the iOS platform, although an Android version is due in the coming months.