Instagram is looking to slim down its Application Program Interface. Part of that slimming effort includes the exclusion of support for apps’ access on Instagram feeds, leaving the third-party apps that once fed out that information, out to starve.
Instagram is about to start reviewing new and current apps, starting on Dec. 3.
The owners of existing apps will have to submit their software before June 1, 2016. June 1 is also an important date because that’s when Instagram will close off the connection to feeds.
“We’ve heard from the community that it can be unclear where their content is being shared and viewed, so today we are deprecating the /users/self/feed and /media/popular API endpoints for new apps. Existing apps will have until the end of the review period before access to the endpoints is terminated,” says Instagram.
While saying it gives the developers and consumers more control, it’s also making the Instagram apps focus on photo editing, the few that connect to feeds have the potential to be used maliciously. Simply put, they mine data and build profiles on the things people post.
For now, it’s just the feed eating apps that have to go. The third-party apps for photo editing aren’t having the rug pulled from under them. They just have to prove their worth before next June.
Along with updating its API, Instagram also “simplified” its platform policy. It did so to better state the use cases it will support. Those use cases, which include helping people share their content via third-party apps, enable brands and advertisers to better engage their audiences and empower broadcaster and publishers to disseminate information more effectively.
The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network detailed its platform update in a blog post, also revealing a new review process for third-party apps and a sandbox mode for developers to build and test their apps during the review process.
Instagram said it will begin reviewing both existing and new apps Dec. 3, and existing apps must submit by June 1.
As for the feed API, Instagram said the move was made because users felt that it was unclear where their content was being shared and viewed, adding that access to the endpoints will be terminated at the end of the review period.
The Instagram developer blog post read
We’ve updated our platform policy to explicitly list the use cases we will support moving forward. These include apps and services that:
Help individuals share their own content with third-party apps, such as apps that let you print your photos and import an Instagram photo as a profile picture.
Help brands and advertisers understand and manage their audience, develop their content strategy and get digital rights to media. Established apps in this space may apply for our newly announced Instagram Partner Program.
Help broadcasters and publishers discover content, get digital rights to media and share media using Web embeds.
You can read the full terms here.
Our goal is to provide a focused set of terms and processes that give clarity to the use cases we will support going forward. While this may require changes from many of you, we believe these changes will help maintain control for the community and provide a clear roadmap for developers.
To learn more and begin the permissions review process, visit https://instagram.com/developer/.
Instagram is reviewing all apps requesting access to its API beginning December 3. If problems are found, apps will have until June 1 of next year to get Instagram’s approval. Some developers are already weighing in:
“Instagram announced some substantial changes to their API yesterday,” wrote developer Tim Johnsen, creator of Apple TV Instagram reader Tangram, in a Wednesday blog post. “I respect their decision to do so, it’s their product and they’ve got to keep it great! That being said, I’m going to have to start making some changes to Tangram over the next few months to meet their new requirements. The home feed will eventually be removed from Tangram, and the product may need to be renamed as well.”
If you use an app that wants to import your photos from Instagram, with your permission, that’s still OK. But apps like Tangram that display your entire feed will need to shift direction.
The story behind the story: So what caused Instagram’s sudden change of heart? The company said users are concerned that “it can be unclear where their content is being shared and viewed,” but there were also recent security concerns. A third-party app called Who Viewed Your Profile – InstaAgent, which let users see who viewed their Instagram profiles, was caught harvesting Instagram account usernames and passwords and sending that unencrypted information to a remote server. The app also posted photos on users’ feeds without their consent. Apple pulled the app from the iOS App Store last week after developer David Layer-Reiss discovered the malware.
Handing over your Instagram login credentials to a third-party app is ill-advised in most cases
but it’s entirely voluntary. Instagram is ensuring that the apps that have access to its API aren’t deceiving users about what they’re doing or where the information is going.
The company is also starting a review process next month for any app that requests full API access and developers have until June 1, 2016 to gain approval. Starting today, new apps won’t be able to leverage Instagram’s feed and popular APIs, but existing software will maintain access until next summer’s deadline. The changes will ultimately give you more control of the content you create and allow Instagram to focus its development efforts inward. It also means cutting down on apps like InstaAgent that collected usernames and passwords. Unfortunately, it also likely signals the end of access for folks with devices that don’t run iOS or Android as well.
“Our goal is to provide a focused set of terms and processes that give clarity to the use cases we will support going forward,” Instagram says. “While this may require changes from many of you, we believe these changes will help maintain control for the community and provide a clear roadmap for developers.”