Instagram is one of the most wildly successful apps to ever hit the iOS App Store. The app’s co-founder, Kevin Systrom, recently revealed that Instagram now boasts 27 million active users on the iPhone alone during the South by Southwest conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.
We’ve all been clamoring for the popular social photography app to make its way to Android for many months, and it has been confirmed that Instagram for Android is coming “very soon.” The app is currently being tested in private beta.
The boldest claim Systrom made was that Instagram for Android is, in some ways, “better than our iPhone app.”
While Systrom was onstage yesterday at SXSW he briefly dazzled the crowd with a Galaxy Nexus running the beta of Instagram for Android. He said that “it’s one of the most amazing Android apps you’ll ever see,” noting “in some ways, it’s better than our iPhone app. It’s crazy.” The Instagram team is making sure the app works on a variety of larger handset screens and has social integration with sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Systrom’s main point with calling the app “better” than its iPhone predecessor was that it runs faster. It will be curious to see how the two apps compare on both platforms.
It’s taken Instagram such a long time to make the jump to Android because the founders have been concerned with scaling their service appropriately. The Instagram team is relatively small (less than 15 people) for the app’s prominence and rumored $500 million valuation. The co-founders have taken the time to update methodically and deliberately on iOS, and that approach has paid off.
“I don’t think it took us so long. We just had priorities. Had we tried to be both on Android and iPhone at the same time, it would’ve been tough to innovate in the way that we have,” said Systrom to Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch. “We’ve been very lucky with scaling. The difference is that we’re served out of the cloud and we can call up instances with the demand. We also have a fantastic team that focuses on scale.”
Instagram has yet to set a specific date for the Android launch. We’ll let you know when more develops.