Instagram Filters and Laziness

I always believed that Instagram filters are what made Instagram such a big hit. Otherwise Instagram was just another photo sharing app. When I started using Instagram, I used to try many filters before settling on one and sharing my picture. Over the period of time, I started sharing pictures without any filters — also known as a “Normal” filter because of my laziness. Recently I wondered whether my behavior was peculiar or many other people were also using Normal filter while sharing pictures on Instagram. Accordingly, I did a quick and dirty analysis using pictures collected from Orchard Road area in Singapore. Why Orchard? Well, let’s just say because Orchard is one of the most frequented tourists spots in Singapore, which makes my analysis more representative.

I carried out analysis on the pictures collected in January-February months of 2014, 2015, and 2016. This makes comparison easier and more uniform. As the filters offered by Instagram changed over the 2 years period, I am not plotting all the filter counts for 3 years on the same graph. Instead I show you 3 separate graphs — one for each year. Also, I show bars on the graph only for filters which were used more than 500 times in the 2 months period. This is arbitrary but it helps me depict a meaningful bar graphs. All the filters with <= 500 pictures were combined and labeled “Other”, which will show up in the graphs.

Without further ado, here are the three graphs:


Well, I am not an outlier! It turns out that at least from 2014, people have been using Normal filter (basically no filter) more than any other filter. The percentages of pictures with Normal filter were 59% in 2014, 73% in 2015, and 65% in 2016.

It’s tough to say why people selected the filters they did. My hypothesis is that people are lazy and so they will go with the default. “Normal” filter is the default so it’s picked up the most often. Now Instagram has been changing the filters so I don’t know how they were arranged in 2014 or 2015. But for 2016, the ordering was as follows:

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Clarendon and Gingham are the next two filters shown by Instagram after Normal, which are also the next two most commonly used filters in Orchard area! After that, the filter ranking in the graph loses correlation with the Instagram’s  default ordering of filters. Perhaps, this indicates that non-lazy people actually hunt down the filter that gives them the best looking result. Still Juno and Lark, which are 5th and 6th on my 2016 graph, appear on 7th and 5th position in the Instagram ordering. Hudson, Sierra, and X-Pro II which are at the end on my bar graph, also appear in Instagram ordering towards the end. It seems that there is some support for the “lazy” hypothesis!

If you have more to add, please share your insights in the comments.


My Five Favorite iPhone Apps

Many of you would have received an iPhone 4/4S or iPad 2 as a Christmas gift. Choosing from the thousands of apps from Apple App Store is a tough job. There is a plethora of articles on the net recommending which apps you should install. I read these articles regularly and try the free apps first to see which ones I will use often. From my last six months’ usage, I have identified five apps for iPhone and iPad each, which I use frequently. These apps are my favorite not only because they are useful but also because they have very nice user interfaces. In this post I will tell you which iPhone apps are my favorite and why. In a follow up post I will talk about iPad apps.

There is no specific order I am following here.

1. Instagram

Instagram is a photography app which is rated as the number 1 app of 2011. It has upward of 10 million users and it is growing fast.

Why do I like it?

There are two reasons. First, Instagram has awesome collection of filters that you can use to enhance your photos. You can take the pictures using the app or you can use an existing photo in your photo library and apply the filters. The filters are nice and very easy to use. This snappy app lets you almost instantaneously apply various filters and see which ones give you the best effect. Second, you can share pictures with the world or your social network on Facebook and Twitter. You can maintain a small Instagram only friend circle too. Ease of sharing for me is critical and Instagram excels at that.

Where can you get the app?

Download Instagram for free from here.


Whiskers sitting on the sofa

2. Dropbox

Another awesome app! When you sign up with Dropbox, you get 2 GB free storage in the cloud. If you have a .edu email id, then you actually get more storage. Further, whenever you recommend Dropbox to your friends and they sign up, you get 250 MB extra storage.

Why do I like it?

First, Dropbox is the work of a genius. It is so damn clever that there is no other option but to like it! You can upload anything on Dropbox and access it from anywhere – your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Windows computer. On your computers Dropbox creates an entry as a disc right into the Finder on Mac and Explorer in Windows. This means when you are saving a file, your computer gives you an option to save it to Dropbox!

Second, Dropbox files are updates almost instantaneously. This means almost no delay between the time you upload something from your iPhone and then access it from other devices. Many times I take pictures from Instagram and tweak them a bit on my computer. The file transfer between the two devices is always via Dropbox. I stopped using flash drives for a while now and I have tons of them still lying around in their original packaging!

Third, Dropbox is now getting support from other peripheral apps that are using Dropbox as a hard drive. For example, I use SongBox Player, a music streaming app to play songs which I have stored on my Dropbox folder! None of these songs gets downloaded on my iPhone leaving enough space for my Audible audiobooks.

Where can you get the app?

Download Dropbox for free here.

3. Flipboard

Flipboard is a news reading app. It was first introduced on iPad and only recently it made its debut on iPhone. This app is just wow!

Why do I like it?

First, Flipboard is an amazingly good-looking app! It has one of the cleanest interfaces I have ever seen on any electronic device. Ease of use, great colors, nice typography, and the “flip” action to turn the pages, all make this app one of the coolest one out there. Second, Flipboard lets you link all your news sources such as blogs (TechCrunch, All things D, etc.), social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and feed readers (Google Reader, etc.) to this one account. Thus, you can use Flipboard as a single dashboard from where you can access everything happening around you. Further you can share stuff on Facebook, Twitter, and Read It Later, among other thing.

Where can you get the app?

Download Flipboard from here.

A screenshot of Flipboard app

4. CardMunch

CardMunch is a LinkedIn app. Do you meet many people and exchange business cards with them? If yes, then this app is for you. As a PhD student, I collected barely 50 business cards over those five years. After I took the job with Essec and moved to Singapore last June, I have collected more than 100 business cards! I just don’t know how to organize them and carry them with me all the time. Enters CardMunch. It allows you to take picture of the business card, which it uploads on its servers for optical character recognition. It extracts all the important information and returns various fields such as name, title, company, phone number, etc. to you in digital form.

Why do I like it?

First, CardMunch is fairly simple to use and does a great job of character recognition. I rarely have to correct any data that it recognizes. It also keeps the original picture of the business card. Second, it fetches the person’s LinkedIn public profile and displays it alongside all the information it extracted form the business card! This is awesome because this means you now have the person’s picture (if it is available on LinkedIn) and other information such as work experience and education, which people usually share on their LinkedIn profiles.

Where can you get the app?

Download CardMunch from here.

5. Wenzani

Do you like to eat out a lot? I don’t. But after we moved to Singapore, we started eating out quite frequently. There are a few really awesome restaurants in Singapore. The problem that we face is that there are actually so many restaurants here that it is difficult to know which place is good even before you try it (Singapore seems to have the highest number of restaurants per capita). Luckily Lonely Planet comes to the rescue with this awesome app Wenzani. The app uses your location, which you should let it identify, and shows the restaurants and their reviews written by the Lonely Planet community.

Why do I like it?

First, as all the above apps, Wenzani is easy to use and has a very clean user interface. It lets you select from a menu of different types of outlets such as restaurants, shops, night clubs, etc. Second, it has information on almost every place that you will find in any area. They update is quite frequently too. All in all, this helps a lot if you have little idea about your city.

Where can you get it?

Download Wenzani from here.

Wenzani welcome page