Instagram shuts off API access for feed reading apps

Instagram Explore
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Instagram is tightening control of its app by shutting off access for feed reading apps in its new set of rules for developers. In a blog post, the company said its update to the platform aims to “improve people’s control over their content and set up a more sustainable environment built around authentic experiences.”

In addition to streamlining Instagram and making the user experience more consistent, the move also addresses community concerns of where user photos are being shared and viewed. Developers using Instagram’s API (Application Program Interface) will have to submit their apps for review by June 1, 2016. On December 3, Instagram will begin “reviewing new and existing apps before granting full API access.” All clients using the API will have to submit their app for review, but apps that feature photo-editing or ones that simply pull your own Instagram posts will not be affected by the API restrictions.

“Apps created on or after November 17, 2015 will start in Sandbox Mode and function on newly updated API rate-limits and behaviors. Prior to going Live, and being able to be used by people other than the developers of the app, these apps will have to go through a new review process,” a note on Instagram’s site said.

The Sandbox Mode will let developers build and test their app as it is being reviewed. Apps like Phonegram, Retro, and Webbygram will have to change to meet Instagram’s new requirements.

Although it seems like a big change, the number of feed apps the update will affect is small. Instagram hit 400 million users in September, but according to TechCrunch, even the most popular third-party client has “0.5 percent or fewer as many monthly active users.”

Instagram’s newly simplified platform policy also cited areas in which it plans to improve support, such as helping brands and advertisers manage their audiences better, help users share their content with third-party apps, and improve tools for publishers to discover content.

The news may incite groans from developers, but the company is providing six months of preparation before submission for the review period ends, giving them some time to focus on photo-editing.

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