Although Instagram has just been bought by Facebook, the Instagram app still has the ability to share pictures with other social networks – Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr and Tumblr (and Posterous Spaces, if you can call it a social network). Notably missing amongst that list is Google+.
It is possible to get your pictures into Google+, using three different methods. But, not all of them will be available to everyone, and they’re not particularly seamless. I’m going to go through the ways that I am aware of at time of writing.
Method 1: The Instagram Android app
If you have an Android phone, then thankfully getting photos into Google+ is relatively easy and can be done from within the Instagram app for Android. Take your picture, save it and share it with any of the other social networks as normal. Then, click on the three dots ‘…’ under the picture and choose ‘Share’, then ‘Google+’. You can also send the picture to a variety of other places from this menu, depending on what apps you have installed.
Advantages: By far the easiest method, just a couple of extra clicks after saving
Disadvantages: Only for Android users at present, not for iPhone owners
Credit: Anewdomain.net – Google+ Redesign, App Update, Instagram for Android: Coincidence? Hardly (since I don’t have an Android phone of my own)
Method 2: Uploading to Picasa using ifttt
I’ve mentioned in the past about how awesome ifttt is, and thankfully there’s a recipe that will help you on your way called Auto Instagram to Google+ (Picasa). You’ll need both an ifttt and a Gmail account, although if you have a Google+ account, chances are you’ll also have a Gmail account.
Firstly, link your Instagram and Gmail accounts to ifttt – ifttt doesn’t store your passwords, so it’s safe. Next, go to Picasa Web Albums (again, if you have a Google+ account, you should also have a Picasa account) and create a new album, and call it Instagram – you may have to upload a photo to do this.
Now, in Picasa Web Albums, click the cog at the top-right corner of the screen and choose Photos Settings. Tick the box that says ‘Allow me to upload photos by email’ and then choose a secret word. You will then get an email address in the format email@example.com. Save the changes.
Go back into ifttt and open the recipe. Put your new firstname.lastname@example.org address in the ‘To address’ box, and the subject as the name of the folder (which we set as ‘Instagram’ earlier). Leave the other two fields, and then click ‘Create Task’.
From now on, ifttt will check your Instagram account every 15 minutes, and upload your pictures to Picasa Web Albums. Because Picasa and Google+ are integrated, your Google+ circles will be able to view these pictures. However, they won’t be automatically shared as a profile post – you’ll have to do this manually, unfortunately.
Advantages: Works for most users
Disadvantages: Requires a separate ifttt account, photos don’t automatically show on your friends’ streams.
Method 3: Uploading to Picasa via Dropbox
If you have a Dropbox account, you can have your Instagram photos saved to a folder in your Dropbox. You can then use the Picasa desktop application upload all new photos in this folder to Picasa Web Albums automatically.
Firstly, you need to link Dropbox and Instagram. Instagram doesn’t officially support uploads to Dropbox so you’ll need to do it via a third-party service – Instadrop is one but you can also use this ifttt recipe if you already have an ifttt account. Once set up, you’ll have any new pictures taken on Instagram in your Dropbox – Instadrop does it instantly, ifttt runs every 15 minutes, so there may be a short delay.
Now, you’ll need Google’s Picasa app installed on your computer – open it, and sign in with your Google account. Next, go to File and ‘Add Folder to Picasa’, and add the folder where you’ve set Instadrop or ifttt to save your photos. Picasa will now import any pictures already there, but we need it to also import any new photos.
You’ll now need to go to Tools and then Folder Manager, find the folder in your Dropbox and tell Picasa to ‘Scan always’ so that any new photos will be automatically imported into the Picasa desktop app. Finally, find the folder on the left sidebar, and from the drop-down menu select ‘Enable Sync’ so that these photos get uploaded to Picasa Web Albums.
There are, again, caveats here. Like with method 2, these pictures won’t show as new posts in your friends’ streams, and you must have Picasa running all of the time on your computer. That means that if your computer is turned off, or is turned on but Picasa isn’t running, your pictures won’t be uploaded.
Advantages: You get a backup of all of your Instagram photos in your Dropbox account
Disadvantages: Only works when your computer is turned on and Picasa is running, photos don’t automatically show on your friends’ streams, requires an ifttt account or signing up to Instadrop
Credit: The Atlantic – Sync Your Instagram and Google+ Accounts for Real-Time Updates
Why is all of this effort necessary?
The thing is, I shouldn’t have needed to write this blog post. Sharing pictures from Instagram to Facebook and Twitter is dead easy, but Google has made it very difficult for third-party applications to automatically upload information to Google+ on a user’s behalf. The public API, which allows third-party applications access to a user’s Google+ account is read-only, so information can be exported from Google+ but not imported in. Unless Google allows for full read-write access, importing photos from third-party apps will require these complicated workarounds.
Back in September I listed 8 things that Google needs to do to make Google+ popular, and number 1 was an API. Google did launch an API at the same time, but it’s read-only – over 6 months later and still no change. Google+ will be a year old this summer and though Google claims to have 170 million users (which is actually 170 million people with a Google account who have ‘upgraded’ to Google+ at some point), the number of users actively using Google+ as a social network and logging in regularly seems to far, far lower. I would happily share my blog posts, photos and so on over at Google+ if it was easy to do so, but right now I have to share everything manually. That’s a lot of effort for so few regular users.