Well, maybe not forever. But Wednesday's announcement that popular iPhone photo app Hipstamatic can now post their snapshots directly to Instagram's photo sharing network is pretty huge. This marks the first time the Instagram API has allowed a third-party app to add content to its growing social network, clocked at 27 million registered users earlier this month. For developers who couldn't wait for Instagram to publish its API (resourceful hackers reverse-engineered the system back in December, 2010), this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In an interview with Fast Company, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said that the Hipstamatic partnership is "an experiment for how Instagram could open up the image graph a bit wider" and "if the experiment takes off [you'll] likely see more API clients being allowed to do the same in the future... I think this maybe helps people start to understand that we've always been a social network."
Developers can already use the company's API to get information about users' media and relationships, but publishing content to Instagram previously required the free iPhone app. Hipstamatic, on the other hand, costs a whopping $1.99 (two dollars!) and also sells add-ons--a variety of lens, film, and flash effects--through in-app purchases. All photos posted to Instagram from Hipstamatic will include a "Taken with Hipstamatic" attribution, making users aware of the partnership.
In the company's FAQ, Instagram states that "We believe that the core of our product will always be free... [W]e plan to experiment with different models as we grow and learn what special value we can provide to the community." With an Android app on the horizon and the influx of new content from Hipstamatic users, there should be plenty of incentive for Instagram to open up its API even more in the future.
Hat tip: Fast Company