The Best Gets Better: Instagram 2.0 Adds Live Filters, Higher Resolution Photos

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It’s hard to believe that Instagram launched only about a year ago. In a mere three months it accumulated its first million users, and now supports over eight million pocket photographers.

Its success is in no small part due to its easy-to-understand value proposition: instantaneous photo sharing with a creative mix of filters. As founder and CEO Kevin Systrom told Fast Company back in February: “You have to explain everything you do, and people have to understand it, within seconds.”

(MORE: Instagram CEO: ‘Android Is a Major Priority for Us’)

The challenge, of course, is innovating upon the existing app without cutting into its simplicity. And yet, Instagram 2.0 manages to succeed at this beautifully.

Here’s a list of some of the new features:

Live Filters

Previously users had to snap a picture and then apply a filter like X-pro II or Lomo-fi after the fact. That’s no longer the case. Now you’ll be able to see how a filter would look before taking a photo through the viewfinder. You’ll still be able to apply filters the old way if you please, too.

New Filter Options

The service added four new vintage filters. Here they are per the Instagram blog:

Source: Instagram

Instant tilt-shift

Tilt-shifting your photos is now 100x faster as you’ll be able to pinch, zoom and drag blurs around, giving your images dramatic depth. You’ll be able to use it in live view mode as well.

Higher resolution photos

This is major. In the older version of Instagram you were limited to a serviceable 612 x 612 pixels. Now photos are 3x larger: On the iPhone 4 the photos are 1936 x 1936 pixels, and on the iPhone 3GS it’s 1536 x 1536 pixels. If anything, it demonstrates the company is willing to move beyond (some would say) gimmicky applications of vintage-looking filters. Now you’ll be able to take and share large, detailed photos and share them via the app. Instagram’s growing up!

Optional borders, one-click rotation and more

Those frames around your photos to make them look like kitschy photographs? They’re now optional. You’ll also be able to tap a single button in order to reorient a picture. Oh, and the icon’s new, too.

Click here to learn more and give it a whirl.

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Chris Gayomali is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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