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Review: Glass – Classic Instagram fans take note

Developer: Glass Labs Inc.
Price: $4.99/£4.49 per month [Free 2 week trial]
Size: 25 MB
Version: 3.0.2
Platform: iPhone & iPad


Old-school Instagram users have been despairing of late, as the Facebook-affiliated service strays ever further from its photography roots and towards TikTok-style video shorts.

For anyone who pines for the pure artistic slant of that original IG community, Glass is well worth a look. A year on from its rough-around-the-edges launch, it’s an incredibly clean and simple app that’s entirely focused on uploading, sharing, and commenting on photos.

Discover and follow community members

Any photo manipulation, from basic edits to filters, needs to be applied by the photographer ahead of uploading, as there are no tools provided as part of the app. In other words, it’s you that provides the creativity, not the app.

And yes, there is an iPad app, unlike with Instagram.

The presentation is suitably crisp and classy

After signing up ($4.99/£4.49 per month with a 14 day free trial), you’ll be taken straight to a list of existing community members for you to browse through and follow, some of which are extremely talented photographers. Provided you’ve set your profile to be discoverable, your name will be added to this list.

Each image you discover can be shared, commented upon, and bookmarked. You can also mark it as Appreciated, which is effectively the same as liking a post or offering a thumbs-up.

Comments and Appreciation are simply but deftly handled

In our experience the Glass community is an overwhelmingly positive, if not hugely active one. Most of the images we scrolled down on offered brief message threads made up of constructive, affirmative comments.

If there’s any weakness to Glass, it’s one of discovery, and even then it largely comes down to your perspective. Aside from the aforementioned list of Community members there’s a rough list of photo Categories (think of them as tags) such as Architecture and Self-Portrait. And that’s your lot.

It’s possible to browse images by tag-like Categories

It might risk spoiling the purity of the experience, but a magazine-like hub would certainly help more casual users to discover exciting new photographers. The lack of algorithmic interference is something old-school Instagram users have been crying out for, of course – together with the lack of ads and sponsored posts – but a more personal or editorialized tab would still be welcome.

For example, while scanning down through the comments of one image in Glass, we discovered a link from a Glass employee to a Monthly Category Favorites piece posted on the Glass website. Could this not have been featured within the app itself?

Uploading images is extremely intuitive

That aside, Glass is every bit the polished, streamlined and photography focused community app that many disaffected Instagram users have been crying out for. Now it’s up to them to put their money where their mouth is.