Camera Awesome Adds Instagram Support, Loses One Cool Feature

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Harry McCracken /

Instagram is my favorite photo-sharing service. SmugMug’s excellent Camera Awesome has became my default iPhone picture-taking app. So when I learned this week that there was a new version of Camera Awesome with built-in Instagram support — following Hipstamatic‘s recent Instagram integration — I was tickled.

Camera Awesome’s Instragram feature isn’t a one-tap process, but it’s still pretty nifty. It actually takes three clicks, and what you’re doing is sending a photo you took (and, optionally, edited) with Camera Awesome into Instagram. From there, you can post the pic to Instagram as usual.

I suggest that you invest a few extra clicks in Camera Awesome to crop your image to a square aspect ratio before you move it into Instagram. If you don’t, you’ll end up with unsightly black bars in Instagram, which wants all photos to be square. It doesn’t let you crop and resize Camera Awesome photos as you can do with ones you bring in from the iPhone’s Camera Roll.

It would be nice if a future Camera Awesome upgrade let you do the cropping as part of the Instragram export, but it’s pretty easy even now.

This new version of Camera Awesome has a few other improvements, including pinch-to-zoom when you’re taking a picture. SmugMug also took all the filter effects that it was selling in multiple bundles, and decided to put them all in one all-encompassing $9.99 upgrade. (The app itself, as before, is free.)

In short, Camera Awesome is now even awesomer. Except…

As I was playing with the new version, I discovered that one of my favorite features was missing. The first version of Camera Awesome let you use the iPhone’s volume-up button as the camera shutter button, just as you can do with the iPhone’s own Camera app. Now, it just adjusts the volume.

SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill explained to me what was going on:

Apple called and told us they were asking all app developers using the volume button this way to remove the functionality because it was going to break in a future iOS update.  We haven’t gotten clarity from them yet on whether there will be an ‘approved’ way of doing this yet. I’d expect more apps to start removing their volume button support in the future as a result.

The silver lining is that very few people were actually using the volume buttons to take their photos, but I still wish we could.  I liked it.

It’s not a catastrophe, in part because Camera Awesome has a “Big Button” mode that lets you snap a photo by tapping anywhere on the screen. But I was surprised and pleased when Apple added the volume-button shutter to its own Camera app, and even more surprised and pleased when the feature started popping up in third-party apps. Here’s hoping its absence in Camera Awesome is temporary.