Instagraph: Unofficial Instagram app destined for Windows Phone 8 and here’s how it works

Last night we cruelly teased about a potential way for Windows Phone 8 users to post to Instagram right from their devices. To be honest, we did that because it was just too late (too dark) to shoot video and yes, it was a good warm-up.

The good news is no, it is most definitely not a (late) April’s Fools’ joke. It’s 100% legitimate and yes, it will be submitted to the Windows Phone Store very soon.

Read past the break for our video walkthrough and images to serve as a teaser...

Who’s behind Instagraph?

Venetasoft, the same company behind such popular apps as Turbo Camera, Security Toolkit, Cam Broadcaster, Motion Cam, Intrusion Alarm and more security-focused programs for Windows Phone. These guys evidently know a thing or two about network IT, which is a good thing.

How does it work?

So the million dollar question everyone is asking is how did these developers do it? We can’t go into specifics because according to them it’s basically a “secret”. What we can say is that no, Instagram has not given them API access and no, they have not incorporated those APIs in an unofficial method either.

Currently, Instagram only gives API access for browsing files but not for posting.

Instead what seems to be going on here (from our analysis and hints from the developer) is an Azure server-relay method whereby your post goes through their servers to Instagram.  It’s a hack to be sure and far from ideal, but unlike the unofficial Pandora app situation on Windows Phone, this method can’t be suddenly “turned off” by Instagram by changing the API.

What about account creation?

Instagraph for Windows Phone 8

So the other big issue with Instagram is you can’t create user accounts on the web. You can manage them, but not create them. The only way to create an Instagram account is as a first time user is via their official Android or iOS app. That sets up another hurdle for unofficial Instagram app creators.

Instagraph, the first version, does not solve this problem. But the next version does.

Venetasoft have reportedly solved the ability to create accounts through the app itself (once again, most likely relying on a middle-man server) but they said it needs some more testing before being deployed. That means, at least initially, only those with pre-existing accounts can use Instagraph, but it shouldn’t be too long before anyone can use it.

What the app doesn’t do

Instagraph for Windows Phone 8

Interestingly, Instagraph is not a full-featured Instagram client. The app is only meant to post images to your Instagram account but as of now, is not used for browsing photos. Likewise, if you want to comment of favorite one of your own photos, it will open up Internet Explorer to do so.

As far as we can tell, if you want to browse photos (or the people you follow) you will need one of the numerous Windows Phone apps e.g. Metrogram to fulfill that task.

It does work itself nicely into the OS though because the developers have managed to get access to the highly visible “Edit” option when viewing a photo natively.  Currently, only the official Windows Phone photo editor and Nokia’s Creative Studio reside in that spot, meaning Instagraph will have great ease of access. (Currently though it is not a Lens).

Will it pass Windows Phone Store certification?

We can’t of course give a definite on that since the process itself could reveal legitimate issues that need to be resolved by Venetasoft, but yes, the developers to expect it to pass the certification.  In other words, this is not meant to be a proof-of-concept or side project, but a legitimate commercial offering that has required a significant investment in time and money.

It appears to us that the developers behind Instagraph are working with or at least in contact with Microsoft about this project, meaning it should not be a surprise to anyone at this point. We imagine that if Microsoft were prepared to block this due to its mechanics, Venetasoft would be aware of that and would not be pushing forward.

Still, there are no guarantees.

So how is it?

Instagraph for Windows Phone 8

While it’s not an official Instagram client, third-party developers have some advantages over their big brothers in the industry, including speed and the need to be creative.

The experience so far with the app is quite solid and feels seamless—you take a photo (or edit an existing one) using the familiar Aviary photo editor and just hit “submit”. From there it gets queued to Venetasoft’s secure Azure servers and gets posted (the app does not need to remain open during this process either).

It’s a bit of a kludge but certainly feels more native and built in than the BlackBerry BB10 method and let’s face it, it gets the job done.

We’ll have more in the coming days on Instagraph, including app submissions, availability and any further developments.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Thanks Daniel!!!
    Got spoilered by the youtube video but hey, great app!
  • Viber with voice is now available also, I just downloaded it.. It's a nice app.
  • Yes, WPCentral posted that before this...
  • Can u post the link download? I can't see it on market maybe cause my country?
  • damn, thought i was going to be first. but im so happy, so much app momentum in the last few weeks and it can only get better from here on out.
  • it's not even in the store yet?!?! UGGGGHHHHH my impatience is growing
  • -.-" is it coming for 7.8?
  • We're left out again as always man its time to upgrade
  • Winnar!
  • How hard can it be to get the official Instagram app for wp..? And when that day comes, it is for sure, only for wp8... (sorry my bad english, but I hope you get a point..?)
  • They answered my e-mail asking:
    Hello Marcus,
    thank you very much for your interest in Instagraph. YES of course, wp7 (and winRT too) are in our roadmap ;) Best,
  • Thats what we can call as Good news! Thanks of information!
  • While i'm excited for this workaround, i really hope Instagram just allows access to the API so we can get a fully functional, fluid experience... (for those that really want Instagram).   The camera on the Nokia 920 was made for an app like this.  Come on Instagram... give in to the pressure.
  • I will say this, don't read into this app coming as an indication that an official solution is not in the works. The two are not connected.
  • only wp8 or wp7.8 comming?
  • so an official app is in the works?
  • Reading all this, it seems like instagram is far too high maintenance to deal with. Have to create an account on an iPhone or android? Seems stupid.
  • You can also make one using bluestacks in your computer.
  • Yeah, and I wonder if that's what they're doing here - pushing the upload through the Android app on Bluestacks.
  • Ha, the camera on the 920 is TOO good for blurry notalgic Instagram filters! Why ruin all that gorgeous detail?
  • +1000
  • Or you could do like I do and post your pictures without applying any filters. I know, novel idea. Jeez.
  • You do know that filters are entirely optional
  • Write Instagram on Facebook and ask them to make an app for Windows Phone, I do once a week, if we all do that it might get their attention.
  • Its a start #grateful
  • no wp 7.x support..?
  • They answered my e-mail asking:
    Hello Marcus,
     thank you very much for your interest in Instagraph.
    YES of course, wp7 (and winRT too) are in our roadmap  ;)
  • Hmmm, what do you think they are trying to say?
  • I have a couple #2instawithlove photos I'd like to post.
  • Photoplay + Viber, then this.?? I'm loving my Lumia 920 more and more.. Haha
  • Very cool. Read it later. I have a feeling official one is in the works though, but thanks for the effort
  • Oh snapples!
  • Very happy to have something! Its a great start. Hopefully between this and the #2instawithlove campaign we will with get a third party app with full api access for notifications and such, or the offical. But Im still excited for this.
  • How about the only reason I still prefer Instagram over others: Sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare with a check-in at the same time?
  • So far this does not have that, which is unfortunate. Then again, that seems like something trivial that can be added later and perhaps it will.
  • No 7.8 support maybe other third party developers can implement this method?
  • They answered my e-mail asking:
    Hello Marcus,
    thank you very much for your interest in Instagraph. YES of course, wp7 (and winRT too) are in our roadmap ;) Best,
  • Ohhhh speculations over folks! Thanks for this Dan.
  • This is great for the platform.  But I'll continue to use WPGram to browse and upload with my Android tablet, as I like IG's "official" filters better than Aviary's.  
    I guess with the recent market share numbers showing some good gains, eventually FB and it's sub-company IG will take notice and develop some official apps for us.  'Til then, we can continue the waiting game.
  • So a hack that requires you to hand over login details to a third-party... what can go wrong here...
    Plus this will be shut down as soon as Instagram learns about it!
  • Yup..
  • Are you new to the internet?
  • Pardon?
  • How many third-party companies/apps/programs do you enter your login details to? This app certianly isn't going to be anyone's first. Just by having a phone you have provided your login details to a third party
  • So you know nothing about the Internet then...
    Most modern apps use OAUTH - which does not give login details to third parties! However if this app uses cloud, it will be impossible.
  • I know what OAUTH is, but I am not naive enough to think that every third party app is utilizing it to log into every service I own. Don't think that Apple, Google, or Microsoft don't know the usernames/passwords that you've added to your phone(s). Also, while OAUTH is useful in preventing third parties from seeing your password, it doesn't prevent those third parties from having access to you account(s) after you login, they will still be able to see everything you do through them with your account, whether it be instagram, twitter, facebook, etc. OAUTH is definitely a good thing, better then it was pre-OAUTH, but don't go thinking it automatically protects you like an iron shield.
    You are worried about someone having your instagram credentials? I am sure that isn't the most sensitive information you've ever inputted online. Are you one of those people that believe that what you put onto the internet stays private?
  • From the article: "Instagraph, the first version, does not solve this problem. But the next version does."
    To my knowledge, Instagram would have to know about the process to allow this to happen. 
  • Just a guess but they're either 1) emulating an android/ios phone in the cloud, or 2) have actually intercepted the web calls those platforms make, and are spoofing a legit client through azure? Good stuff, even if I am wrong, which is likely. But likely this mode of update will get shut down.
  • I thought about this a few days after getting my Lumia and wondering why, of all the ingenuity on the internet, someone couldn't get some alternate methods to access the permission to upload to Instagram with all the brilliant photo apps we have. I don't consider myself very tech saavy (as far as infrastructure works), but I will say the second the desktop Windows OS has access to something like Bluestacks I can't imagine how the opportunity to use technology like that to open up the platform to what Android has to offer wasn't talked about more (I mean, look at what BB10 is doing in that regard). And that's not even to say we need an emulation layer in the phone - a lot of things can be done remotely as necessary. No one will believe me, but as I was thinking about it I pretty much thought up what they're doing in 10 or 15 minutes (implementing it I suppose, is another thing) where basically you just have an emulation server set up that takes the information from the phone software, logs in on the emulated application, posts it, logs out, and moves on to the next user. Obviously, the mechanics of that are simplified and god knows it would get backed up with thousands of people, but potentially, with some work, a more elegant way could be figured out. I'm guessing they took that idea and ran with it, which is good, because someone needed to eventually. Hell, if I knew anything about programming or mobile development I would have tried it already.
  • And now the reson no one is doing this :) The costs. The azure is not free. And everyone will expect a free instagram nothing less. So you have montly costs, anual costs(dev account) and you also have to give this for free. The presence of aviary logo on the screenshots sugest that they opted for the free version of the aviary(not hte 500/month version). So costs for this are so high and if they are going to give this for free it can only serve them as publicity nothing else.
  • Wow are u serious windows phone 8 only ...its about time for me to jump this sinking 7.x ship
  • Awesome. Now lets all follow each other. Screen names? @samsabri
  • Lol follow me too :P
  • @rikster81
  • @usn_em
  • Cool, but...
  • Pretty logical really and how many apps can and do work. Although the azure relay method is sensible as stuff changes and breaks.
  • Weak sauce...this isn't anything to get excited over.
  • I also hate it when sauce is weak. Flavour is everything
    Aghh Why did I delete my account? :( And know i can't reactivate it without an Android or iOS phone :(
    Any case, I think Instagram OFFICIAL app should come