Mobile App Development Tips from the CEO of Instagram

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I’m rather impressed with Instagram. Here’s yet another photo sharing app that simply with its introduction has dominated an incredibly crowded space. To get a little insight in the development secrets of Instagram, I spoke with the CEO, Kevin Systrom, at the Mobilize conference in San Francisco.
Understand the difficulties of mobile development vs. the web
Compared to mobile, web development is easy. Mobile development simply compounds the problems you have on the web. Here are Systrom’s examples:
More languages to manage — You have to deal with other languages beyond HTML and Javascript such as Objective-C and other native languages.
Phone behavior varies — Computer access is standardized. Not so with phones.
Manage connectivity — Not a concern with web apps today, but a huge concern with phone apps that fall onto the EDGE network or disconnect completely. How can your app handle that? Many apps simply shut down or freeze once the phone hits the EDGE network. You have to optimize your output for speed and inactivity of network.
The best feature is less features
There are an endless number of photo sharing apps. How did Instagram succeed in such a crowded field, I asked Systrom.
He believes their success has to do with elements they didn’t put into the app. They purposely removed extraneous features and made it very simple to use.
For example, to Systrom, speed of upload is a major feature of Instagram. One way to get there was to reduce the quality of their images. It’s kind of counterintuitive to a photo app, but it worked. In their most recent update of Instagram, they’ve reduced the filter render times from 4 seconds down to 4 milliseconds. That’s made a huge impact on application speed.
Lastly, filters, which traditionally have been an extra unused add-on slapped onto most image editing and sharing programs are actually integral to the upload process for Instagram, and are used for 2/3rds of all uploads, said Systrom.
Move quickly and get the details right
“Putting out half-baked apps in mobile is the worst thing you can do,” said Systrom.
While users will put up with lack of functionality in Web development, and you have the flexibility of multiple iterations, you can’t do the same in mobile. Systrom’s advice is to do fewer things, but do fewer things better. Focus on the details that matter.
Systrom suggest you list out three things that matter most about your app and make sure every detail about that is working for your app. For Instagram those three things were application speed, distribution to other networks, and speed of upload.


Josiah Lauby says:

I found a cool app that makes your phone yell when its moved, you can make it also ring when its moved so its less weird. But its kinda funny, and actually kinda helpful at keeping people from moving your phone without you knowing. Its called yelling phone. link below if you want it, or you can just search for it in the play store.

Clarence White says:


Amanuel Dessalegn says:

Why do every good young CEO's say "Right?"..

Shakita Minassian says:

i really liked the way he is explaining those concepts.

Shawn Myrelle says:

Wow great insight. Speed, correct development and social media distribution. Also, if you're here, be sure to download some of these apps in the comment section. Support these young developers! COMMENT your app here and I'll download it- assuming it's under $5.00.

hotvision says:

"Right? Right? Please agree with me"

Jerry Calderon says:

Looking for someone that makes apps

Rupal Totale says:

Most people one here are advertising their apps, funny really.

Toby says:

i wish i could sit down with him. seriously i have the next big app in my head and i know nothing about programming. i know everyone out there thinks theor idea is a game changer. but I've gone over my idea with a few people and they couldnt stop asking questions they were really into it. i know what i have is great it will change the way we interact with apps in the same category.

Juju Island says:

dude blend in your foundation

Krusty Kraken says:

He actually reminds me a lot of Tom Hanks.

Krusty Kraken says:

He is not having fun.

Si Global solutions says:

Interesting video. We are developers and system integration company.Thank you

Sports Fit says:

If anyone wants to check out our app on iphone its called SportsFit it lets you know how many people are in the gym and lets you know when your friends go.

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