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Tech trends
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DING! "Basement floor."

Whoa, now! You're in the right place. Don't leave. Yes, this is Tech Trends. Yes, I know you probably didn't mean to stumble down here, but just hold on a second.

Tech Trends is a new, friendly place where we can share interesting tech tips, new smartphone and tablet apps and other geeky whatnot, but all in a way which everyone can understand.

To start things off with our inaugural post, perhaps it would be appropriate to begin with one of the biggest tech stories making the rounds recently - Instagram. The fun, mobile-only social network for sharing funky photos taken with your smartphone seems to have taken the smartphone world by storm with more than 30 million users.

Also, The Covington News just created our own Instagram account. Find us under the username: "covnews."

First things first. Where do you get Instagram? The Instagram app is a free app available for Apple's iOS devices (iPhone and iPod touch-only however. Sorry iPad folks, but fear not, I have something for you as well).

You can also get Instagram now for Android devices.

When you first launch the app, you'll need to make an account, which only takes a few seconds. Next you can find friends to share with and follow. Instagram makes it very simple to find other people who are also using the app. Friends can be pulled from your phone's address book, your Facebook friends or your Twitter followers. Or, using their email address, you can invite friends to create an account.

All setup? Good. Time for the meat and potatoes of Instagram - photos. To start, tap the blue camera-looking icon in the bottom-center of the app screen. You can either take a photo right away or use one you've already taken with your device.

Next you have the option of using Instagram's best feature - filters, filters and more filters! Filters are color styles that you can add to your Instagram photos to make them look very "retro" and almost Polaroid-like.

The magic of Instagram is playing with filters and other effects to make a cool, funky little snapshot.

Instagram is a free download on the Apple App Store and Android Market.

And now for you iPad users.

First off, yes, the Instagram app will technically work on the iPad, but I don't recommend it. The app is formatted for the screen size of the iPhone, so it will simply look terrible on the iPad. I say just avoid going this route.

But, all is not lost. There are apps for the iPad that work with Instagram, but with a couple caveats. First, you can't take or upload photos with these apps. Instagram, the company, doesn't actually make an official iPad app, and so other, third-party developers have stepped up to the plate. However, Instagram doesn't allow these other apps to post new photos - only view photos. You can, however, do almost everything else like the official Instagram iPhone and Android apps.

The other caveat is you must use the iPhone or Android app to create your Instagram account for the first time.
So what iPad-formatted Instagram apps are you out there, you ask? Quite a few actually. Just search "Instagram" on the iPad App Store.

A good one to try is Iris App. This recently-released app is the most "official-looking" iPad-formatted Instagram app. The design of the app is top-notch, from the icons to the layout, the overall look and feel of the app is fantastic. The app takes full advantage of the iPad's larger screen, displaying your Instagram photos in a way your smartphone could not achieve.

Last but not least, if you want to learn pretty much all there is to know about Instagram and then some, check out

William Brawley is the Electronic Media Producer for the Covington News and Rockdale News. He is an Apple fanatic and camera geek. If you have any tech issues or other questions you would like discussed in future columns, email him at