I have to admit...I like new shiny things, especially new apps. I enjoy setting them up, playing around with them and seeing how they work.
My newest toy has been the Padgram app. It is one of those apps that I had no idea I needed until I learned about it (from a Lifehacker article, Third Party Apps That are Better Than the Official Counterparts). Although Instagram did not have an iPad-specific app, I just used the iPhone app on the iPad and was pretty content. I will admit that I tended to prefer going through Instagram using my iPhone than on my iPad.
That changed once I tried out Padgram. What I especially enjoy about Padgram is the user interface. It is extremely intuitive and eye-pleasing. You can view photos (your feed, your photos, or a really nice new feature, your likes) in a beautiful grid format or you can click on individual photos and use the newer "swipe" technology to page through the larger photos. I am really glad that more and more apps are adopting the swipe navigation as I am finding that I definitely prefer it and find that it lends itself to a more intuitive and enjoyable user experience.
What really makes Padgram a step up however, is the ability to subscribe to tags and users. Instead of having to remember to search on my favorites, I can subscribe to them and they will be displayed in the side menu along with an "unseen photo" count so you know if there are new photos to view. I adore this feature as there are a couple of instagrammers whom I want to make sure that I don't miss and it is nice to just have the hashtags that I enjoy following accessible at a click.
I found that I quickly adapted to the new layout. A few things took a little bit of using them before I became completely comfortable with them, such as swiping sideways to view the photos instead of scrolling down like on the current Instagram app, having the like button at the top instead of the bottom of the photo and sometimes having to click on a down arrow if the caption is longer than a couple of lines. But after a little bit of use, I have found that these have become second nature.
There are two things that I find are missing in the Padgram app. The first being that you have to click on the heart at the top of the photo to see who has liked your photo (in the Instagram app, these are listed underneath the photo above the comments and are easier to see). The second being that there is no place to see notifications when people comment or like your photo. I realized that I was missing comments and seeing when facebook friends joined, so I still check the Instagram app occasionally to see if I have any notifications. I do hope that they add that functionality but for me, the rest of the app's features more than makes up for these two minor inconveniences.
Padgram is a free app. You can also become a VIP for $2.99/year (they give you the option for $.99/month or $2.99/6months, which makes it pretty clear you should go for the annual subscription.) VIP offers multiple features, the most important ones for me being able to have unlimited subscriptions to tags and users (the free version limits you to 3 for each) and the elimination of ads (there is a banner ad across the bottom and the occasional pop-up ad). Definitely worth it to me.
I have been using Padgram for a couple of weeks now and it has changed how I interact with Instagram. The experience feels much more luxurious, more like curling up with a good book than scrolling through a photo stream. I almost always view Instagram on my iPad now and look forward to doing so. It appears that they now have an iPhone version as well although I don't think that I would subscribe in both places.