Instagram images are distinctive because of their filters and their square crops. They're the first two elements on the Instagram Spotter's Guide. But who wants to be forced to conform and always have to slice off the sides of your photos and submit a perfect square? Exactly! An entire industry has grown up around the Instagram phenomenon, encompassing everything from postcards to marshmallows, and it includes a goodly selection of apps that add a border to your rectangular photos that'll ensure they look square when imported to Instagram. (And if you choose a coloured border, it empahsises how the image is, in fact, square.)
I road-tested five of these apps. If I had the choice of a paid or a free version, I always went for the free one, which meant that one of my judging criteria was how intrusive or distracting the ads were. Otherwise, I was looking for an intuitive interface and something that didn't run too slowly. Thus, in order of preference, I present the Oblong Collective.
With no frills and a desperately simple interface, Instacrop comes joint top of my list. Tap to select a photo from your camera roll, hit share to select from Instagram or EyeEm, and you're done. If you're so inclined you can select from paid-for border colours. There are banner ads at the bottom of the screen and a pop-up ad before you can share your photo, but I didn't find them too instrusive.
As well as allowing you to post rectangular images to Instagram (and Facebook and Twitter), Instasize allows you to create diptychs and triptychs, overlay a filter or text, and choose from a huge variety of borders. I didn't find the ads too distracting and the app didn't run too slowly, either. It shares top spot because if you're looking for a bit more functionality than just rectangular images, it has it.
As with Instacrop, it's a case of tapping to import an image from your camera roll and then tapping to share to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. You can email or save the image, too. #NoCrop gives you the option to adjust your border size using a pinch-to-zoom motion or to reposition your image in the frame. This one is also ad-supported and they pop-up every now and again.
Squaready gives you lots of options to borderise your images: let it do it for you with an instant adjustment, choose from three different sized borders, or pinch-to-zoom to alter it yourself, and then select a border colour. There're are options to edit your images with Camera+ or three other programmes, too. All of this sounds great, but I didn't find the interface as simple to use as Instasize and it was much slower, too.
iOS-only, free (There is a SquareGram for Android, but it's developed by a different company.)
My first encounter with Squaregram did not end well: I closed it in a fit of frustration. Apart from it running very slowly with lots of intrusive ads, the interface wasn't especially intuitive. I couldn't figure out how to remove a text box when I'd been experimenting with adding one, which really bothered me. I did give it another go, and I liked that I was able to choose a border colour and corner curvature, but it ddn't make up for how disappointing it was first time around.
If you've any pet apps for sharing non-square images to Instagram, let us know down there!