The company updated its developer guidelines with new rules that will limit third-party developers’ access to its platform, a change that will affect apps using Instagram’s feed API.
The company stated that the changes were meant to “help maintain control for the community.”
Our goal is to provide a focused set of terms and processes that give clarity to the use cases we will support going forward. While this may require changes from many of you, we believe these changes will help maintain control for the community and provide a clear roadmap for developers.
To be clear, Instagram isn’t cutting off all developers. The company says it will allow certain apps to have access, including those aimed at advertisers, publishers and ones that allow users to share their content, such as printing services. Its issue, it seems, is with apps that are primarily for viewing your feed outside of the main Instagram app.
Though most iOS and Android users rely on Instagram’s main app to browse their feeds, a number of developers use the feed API to create alternative experiences, including tablet apps and apps that allow you to browse your feed from your iOS keyboard or notifications center.
In an update to users on Wednesday, Jason Dinh, the developer behind Retro, an Instagram viewing app for iPad, said he would the change “effectively kills the most important feature for Retro and all 3rd party clients out there.”
“We get where Instagram is coming from on this, 3rd party apps have never been a priority on the platform,” he wrote. “Instagram is also ramping up its advertisement, which is not displayed on any third party apps… We’d like to think that they have an iPad app ready to go on June 1, 2016, because otherwise we’ll stop using Instagram on our iPads (the iPhone app is not an alternative for us, that’s the reason we made Retro in the first place). This sucks for us and it sucks for users of third party clients out there.”
Retro’s Instagram app for iPads.
Image: Tiny Whale
Though some developers are unhappy with the move, it’s understandable that Instagram, which now counts more than 400 million users, would want more control over how developers use its platfiorm. The move comes barely a week after a third-party Instagram app was removed from the App Store and Google Play for stealing users’ passwords.
The move could have a more significant impact on Windows users, as Instagram’s official Windows Phone app, still labeled as a beta, lacks many of the features of its iPhone and Android counterparts. Thus, certain third-party Instagram apps for Windows are actually better than the official version — something not unique to Instagram, as many companies don’t devote the same resources to developing for Windows as they do to other platforms.
Existing developers will have until June 1, 2016 to submit their app for approval under the new guidelines. After that, apps like Retro will not be able access Instagram’s API. New app submissions will also have to submit to the review process by Dec. 3, 2015.
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