Yes, I finally succumbed. Right before Facebook announced their billion dollar purchase of Instagram and right after the announcement of an Android version of the app, I went out to Google's Play Store (how so appropriate) and installed the free app. Then I started to play around with it.
The biggest annoyance, and the reason it came off almost as quick as it went on, was the insistence of the app to upload the photo to the cloud. Being Old School and such, I tend to gather together a whole mess of photos and then look at them all before sharing anything. If you've seen my Flickr stream you may well argue that really doesn't help much, but still, it's my "work flow", and I do try to practice some minute modesty.
While the camera on the HTC myTouch 4G isn't all that good, I have tried valiantly to produce reasonably mediocre photographs with it as apposed to blatantly crappy work. When I looked at what Instagram produced I was reminded I hadn't seen anything that bad since the late-1990s when I purchased an Agfa ePhoto 307 on sale at a local Walmart. And the Agfa was better.
The absolutely horrible photo taken to the right was smartphone processed with FxCamera for Android. It has a limited collection of "filters", ranging from ToyCam (Holga-esque), Ponandroid, Fixheye, SymmetriCam, Warhol (see right) and normal. You can further refine the effect with color modes, vignetting/pinhole and picture size and shape.
After spending just five minutes with it on my smartphone I'm about ready to pull it as well. It's heavily ad driven, but more significantly, it takes a long time to process any given photo.
After looking at all of this it makes me want to write my own bad-photo app. I used to run an image processing IRaD project and I still recall all the interesting ways to manipulate JPEG images. While I doubt I could do "better", I'm certain I couldn't do worse.
What would I call such an app? Beedak (Kodak?) Beekon (Nikon?) Beeb-o-matic? Beeca (Leica?) Crap-o-matic? I was given "500 Cameras: 170 Years of Photographic Innovation" this past Christmas. I think I'll thumb through that magnificent little tome for naming inspiration when I get home.