As of September 21, the popular Flow for Instagram app will be available to download on the iPhone for free. The app is designed with discovery in mind and could prove to be a useful tool for travelers looking to explore new destinations.
Flow was initially released for the iPad in 2013 and was originally conceived as an Instagram shopping app for users in Thailand. The developers soon realized that there was a broader need to be filled; however, and set about designing a user-friendly interface for Instagram on the iPad— something Instagram itself has yet to do.
The new app offers many improvements on the Instagram experience. First of all, there are no ads, which have become a ubiquitous feature on most social media platforms. But more importantly, the app itself is rather beautiful and functions both practically and elegantly. The focus is on the photos themselves. On the home screen, photos appear in a minimalist grid without any text. Pinching the screen with two fingers increases or decreases the number and size of the pictures that appear. Clicking on a picture opens it to display the user and comments, and a long tap will bring up photo and sharing options. It’s sleek and easy to use. The main drawback is that it’s for looking only: Third party apps cannot post photos to Instagram, but users can still like, comment, and follow.
Flow’s unique features make it a portal for discovery, and it’s invaluable to travelers. It’s easy to explore pictures by user or even by location, and places, tags, and users can all be bookmarked for easy access. (The ability to bookmark users without following them is a useful touch.) There are also two separate tabs for bookmarked photos and liked photos, which is excellent for keeping track of things to do or see. It’s easy to post to other social media from the app, and it loads photos and videos very quickly. For $3.99, users can upgrade to Flow Plus, which includes the ability to be logged in from multiple accounts, create unlimited bookmarks, choose between light and dark themes, and save photos and videos to the iPhone camera roll.
The ease with which users can explore related content will make the app a boon for travelers looking for new destinations. For example, search the tag Indonesia and start browsing nearby pictures. Before long, the gorgeous Raja Ampat district of West Papua takes over the screen with its lush and beautiful scenery. The photos of nearby users showcase the glorious hiking views from Wayag Island and the opportunity to snorkel with sharks. As the urge to visit becomes irresistible, book a flight to Jakarta and a room at the Swiss-Belhotel Sorong. Flow isn’t so much an app for looking at pictures of your friend’s cat (not that there’s anything wrong with that) — it’s an interface designed for action and exploration.