Welcome Back, Hipstamatic

Remember Hipstamatic, the original retro filter camera app for iPhone? At its peak in 2012, photographer Ben Lowy shot the cover image for Time magazine using it. Hipstamatic never really disappeared, but it seemingly lost relevance.

Well, they’re back — recognizable, for sure, but different. New: a photo-sharing social network, ad-free, algorithm-free, and monetized only by a paid membership tier. Hipstamatic co-founder Lucas Buick, on Product Hunt:

But why bring back Hipstamatic now, after it faded from popularity over a decade ago? The answer lies in the growing dissatisfaction with the current state of social media. The recent controversies surrounding Facebook and Meta, as well as concerns over data privacy and the addictive nature of technology, have sparked a desire for something different.

Hipstamatic represents a return to the roots of mobile photography, a time before algorithms and AI ruled the day. It’s a reminder that technology can be used for fun and creativity, not just profit and engagement. The app’s member-supported community is proof that there are people out there who still value genuine connections and the simple pleasure of taking and sharing photos.

I dig it. Not sure about the fact that photos posted to Hipstamatic expire after 4 weeks, but that’s certainly different. Worth installing on your iPhone just to get that icon on your Home screen.

Update: What I love about Hipstamatic is how ambitious it is, UI-wise. Or perhaps better put, how ambitious it remains. There’s an exuberance the app wears on its proverbial shirt sleeve. It unabashedly tells you, from your first impression down to the smallest details in its settings, that it’s supposed to be fun. When people speak of Apple’s foundational iOS 7 redesign a decade ago, the primary adjective bandied about is flat. iOS 7 certainly did get flat. But in hindsight, I’d argue that the operative adjective is whimsy. iOS 1—6 were full of whimsy, iOS 7 took it all out, and the entire industry followed Apple’s lead. Everything everywhere looks like iOS 7 today: Android, MacOS, Windows, the web. Hipstamatic’s re-launch is a statement that whimsy and fun and panache have their place in UI design, and I am happy to co-sign.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023