Part of the ongoing transition of big commercial online platforms away from a promiscuous and porous web to a “gated platform” and “developer sandbox”. Of note is the language of “authentic experiences”, “refined resources of the API”.
Only a tiny fraction of Instagram feed reading happens in third-party apps, so Instagram is shutting down its feed API to make feature development nimbler and create a more consistent user experience. The move is part a big cleanup of the Instagram platform. It involves listing exactly what’s allowed with its APIs, an app permission review process that makes Instagram a gated platform, and a new developer testing sandbox.
The changes will hit developers of Instagram clients hardest, especially those for platforms Instagram doesn’t natively support like iPad and desktop. Apps that will have to change by June 1st include Retro, Flow, Padgram, and Pictacular for iPad, and Webbygram, Webstagram, Instagreat, and Itsdagram for desktop. The new policy will also strike down any service offering auto-following, -liking, or -commenting.
In return, Instagram says this will “set up a more sustainable environment built around authentic experiences on the platform” for developers in the categories it does allow. Essentially, crappy apps won’t burn users, detracting from good apps. Plus, Instagram will be able to devote more resources to support the refined set of APIs it does offer.