After holding off for months on an official API, popular photo sharing service Instagram has opened sign-ups for a public beta of its Instagram API. With it, developers can access the 300,000 photos uploaded daily by its more than 2 million users.
The company announced the "more open platform," explaining why it hadn't previously launched an official API:
Until now, users' data has only been accessible through our iPhone app. A big part of this was by design: the fundamental belief that choosing to focus our efforts on one thing, and doing that one thing well would help us iterate quickly.
The private API "is in flux and changes with every release," according to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom. "We wanted to make sure that everyone had access to a reliable API with documentation, and support," he said. While the company worked on an official API, it learned about the types of data of interest to developers and spent time on the developer and user experience, Systrom said.
Those who apply for access to the Instagram API beta will probably be accepted in roughly first-come, first-served order. However, "a cool idea can't hurt," Systrom said.