Instagram vs. Streamzoo: It’s Not What You Think


The sensation that is Instagram has iOS as well as Android users snapping pictures and sharing them like never before. There’s no question that with the millions of users on the platform as well as the simple workflow, Instagram is a winner. But does that mean Instagram is the best game in town? Maybe not. We recently brought you a list of seven Instagram alternatives, and today I want to do an in-depth comparison with the one I feel is the closest competitor… Streamzoo, available for both iOS and Android.

Round 1: Adjusting Your Photos

There’s no question that one of the cornerstones of Instagram’s success is the retro-style image filters. Making your brand new pictures look like they were taken in the 1970’s is apparently very popular for whatever reason. Though I feel these filters have been overused and abused, I have to admit that using them can typically make your images feel a bit more artistic, or at least help hide any imperfections in your original.

The first thing to note is that Instagram forces you to take square pictures only. So even though you can change Instagram’s default camera to use your phone’s own camera, the app will force you to crop the photo to a square. Buh-bye landscapes and panoramas. It’s an interesting, though puzzling, requirement.

Instagram does better with its 17 built-in image filters.

These include the following:

  • Amaro
  • Rise
  • Hudson
  • Sierra
  • X-Pro
  • Lo-Fi
  • Earlybird
  • Sutro
  • Toaster
  • Brannan
  • Inkwell
  • Walden
  • Hefe
  • Valencia
  • Nashville
  • 1977
  • Kelvin

No idea what the names of these filters mean, but it’s easy enough to just click through each one to see how it affects the image. Borders are integrated in some filters, and you have the option to keep or remove the border. There is also a lighting effect which you can toggle on or off, though I’m still not 100% sure what it does. Again, best just to try it see if you like the effect.

Lastly, you can rotate the image in 90 degree increments. That’s about it as far as editing your photo in Instagram. Simple, yes, but ultimately a bit limiting.

One major thing I like better in Streamzoo is that it does not force a square aspect ratio of your image. When you first take or import your picture, you get the option to crop the image into various different aspect ratios, or keep it in its original shape. This is also when you can rotate the image, or even mirror it if you’d like.

As far as filters are concerned, Streamzoo comes with a total of 14… just a few shy of Instagram’s. However, Streamzoo also comes with 15 borders that can be used with any of the filters, giving it a big edge in flexibility, and many, many more artistic permutations. Below are screenshots showing how I applpied the Vibrance filter and the Vintage border.

The filters and borders included in Streamzoo include the following:

  • Lomo
  • Vibrance
  • C-41
  • Xprocess
  • Toy Hipster
  • Old School
  • B & W
  • Masterpiece
  • Sunshine
  • Sepia
  • Classical
  • Industrial
  • Vienna
  • Golden
  • White
  • Black
  • Canvas
  • Film
  • Old Film
  • Gritty
  • Fancy
  • Vignette
  • Old Vignette
  • Viewfinder
  • Vintage
  • Dusty
  • Retro
  • Paint
  • Throwback

Again, the names here don’t necessarily tell you much, and you will be left trying each of these to see which works best for your photo, but at least Streamzoo’s names are a hair more descriptive than Instagram’s. It’s also a nice touch having the borders be their own thing separate from filters.

There is no mysterious lighting toggle, but the customization of your photo does not end here. Streamzoo has a “tilt shift” option that allows you to blur certain areas of your photo to simulate a wider depth of field or bring focus to a specific area of your picture. Below, I chose the circle to keep the model’s face and t-shirt logo in focus while blurring the rest.

To be fair, Instagram also provides a tilt shift option, but only to its iOS users. The Android version of Instagram does not currently support it, though I’m sure an update in the future will remedy that.

Next, Streamzoo provides color options so you can tweak the hue, saturation, brightness, and contrast of your image. Let’s bring up the brightness a bit.

Winner: Streamzoo
It’s obvious that Streamzoo is infinitely more flexible with its filter/border combinations, tilt shift options, color tweaks, and aspect ratio allowances. Instagram got crushed in this round.


Round 2: The Network

Make no mistake, both these apps are social networks in their own right. They each create a community of people who follow each other and comment on the content.

What makes Instagram so successful is not necessarily the features of the service itself, but more the sheer numbers of people using it. If you build the best technology in the world but no one uses it, it’s not that compelling, especially when the technology shines best with a large network of users behind it. Instagram reportedly has over 27 million iOS users at last count, and that’s huge. If we assume there are 200 million iOS devices out there, as reported last year, that’s huge penetration.

I immediately got 15 followers right after installing Instagram since many of my Facebook friends already use it.

Considering Instagram has been an iOS exclusive for so long, there’s no question the numbers will be heavily skewed toward iOS in the beginning.

I haven’t been able to find any numbers mentioning how many Streamzoo users there are, either on Android or iOS, but it surely doesn’t have the penetration that Instagram has. It does seem to be an active and growing community, especially now that Instagram is out for Android and every blogger out there is doing comparison articles :-)

I have yet to get any followers on Streamzoo.

Winner: Instagram
There’s no arguing with the numbers. Instagram has a huge head start here.


Round 3: Sharing

Being able to share your photos to your favorite social networks is very important for a photo sharing app. So how do these two stack up?

Built-in sharing in Instagram comes down to four sites: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Tumblr.

There are also four built-in social networks in Streamzoo, but they differ slightly. It includes Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

Winner: Tie
This round is a wash. It comes down to which networks are important to you, and specifically, do you care if you have Foursquare, or do you prefer Flickr? One other thing to note is that with both apps, the final photo is saved to your SD card, allowing you to share it pretty much anywhere using the standard Android share menu from the image gallery on your device.


Round 4: Web Site

Both  services offer an online web site to access your photos. But there is a major difference.

Every picture you share on Instagram gets hosted on their servers, meaning every picture has an Instagram address. However, that’s ALL you can use the site for. There is no way to actually log in to their site to see or manage your photos or friends. This is what you get when you go to

Yeah, just a little blurb about getting the apps. Also notice how heavily iOS their page is. Not only do they use an iPhone as their sample device, but the default action when clicking the “FREE download” is to go to the iTunes store. Interestingly, when clicking the button on that page to “Get it on Google Play”, you are taken to a very similar page with an Android look to it.

Streamzoo takes a completely different approach to their site. They make it another way to interact with their service. You can upload images (as long as you have uplaoded at least one from the app, and have at least 5 followers), follow users, browse photo streams, comment, and more. You basically have a fully-functioning photo sharing site that stands on its own.

Winner: Streamzoo
Yeah, Instagram got crushed in this round, though I believe they built their service intentionally with an app only model in mind. I understand their approach, wanting to make sure everyone on the service is on a level playing field (might explain their forced 1×1 photos as well) but ultimately, I think people appreciate the flexibility of full access from more than one device.


Round 5: The Rest

We’ve already covered the features that both apps have in common, but what about the unique options specific to each?

Umm… well… I think everything Instagram can do we’ve already covered above. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is really where Streamzoo pulls way ahead. Here’s a list of some of the other features available:

  • Share videos as well as photos
  • Earn points for your activities and compete in the leaderboards
  • Unlock over 30 badges for such things as Cat Lover or Foodie
  • Full hashtag support with trending and popular streams

Winner: Streamzoo
The gamification aspects of Streamzoo (leaderboards and badges) provide a great incentive to use the service. A discreet description field to add your hashtags also helps self-categorize your images into huge collections on the service for maximum exposure.

Video uploads are also a great differentiator for Streamzoo, however you cannot add any filters to videos.


And The Winner Is…

After looking at all five rounds, it becomes pretty evident that Streamzoo is our winner, taking a total of three rounds, tying one, and losing one to Instagram. So why all the fuss about Instagram? Well, the one round that Instagram won is arguably the most important round there is, and that’s the network. With so many people using the service, it has pretty much become the de-facto  standard in the social photo sharing space.

As more Android users come on board and start comparing competing apps, it’s likely that services like Streamzoo may get a boost in users, though it’s a long hill to climb to reach what Instagram has already achieved.

Personally, I prefer Streamzoo by leaps and bounds, but I will keep both installed just because most of my friends only use Instagram (yes, I have a lot of iOS friends). Maybe the more I post on Facebook and Twitter with Streamzoo, the more my friends will begin to check it out.

In the end, though, does it really matter since we are mostly posting to sites like Facebook and Twitter? It’s not like you have to be a member of either service to view a picture.

Which do you prefer? Sound off in the comments below!


Streamzoo Play Store Download Link


Instagram Play Store Download Link

About the Author: Ed Caggiani

Originally from the East Coast, Ed now makes his home in San Jose, California. His passion for technology started with his first ColecoVision and Atari gaming systems, and has grown stronger through Tandy computers, IBM clones, Palm Pilots, and PocketPCs. Ed's love for Android began with his first HTC Hero, then blossomed with the original Evo 4G, and now the Evo 3D and Motorola Xoom. He graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Communications, and is now a professional User Experience Designer working in Silicon Valley. In his spare time, Ed enjoys video games, jamming on guitar, and spending time with his wife, two cats, and Logitech Revue.

  • Ms

    I prefer the don’t make me think aspect of instagram. The community is also great

    • Ed Caggiani

      Yes, the community is important, which I outlined as the #1 thing Instagram has going for it compared to Streamzoo. Though in the short amount of time I have been using both, Streamzoo does seem to have a pretty vibrant community as well.

    • wundawomun

      My experience has been quite the opposite. I feel the Streamzoo community is more interactive than Instagram, by a great deal.

  • Dinakaran Rengachary

    I agree with you in all the points. I prefer streamzoo, as it has more sharing options built in and also has a site where we can do more :)

  • [S]he Talks Android

    Kudos for not sucking up to Instagram as most *cough-cough* Android sites do.

  • CrazyOldBroad

    I am totally impressed with Streamzoo. I tried it out the same day instagram was born for android. My first impression was…blah… and I tweeted about it. To my surprise I heard from the founder of Streamzoo who informed me there was an update (I had a lag issue). I re-installed it and havent looked back. Its become my new addiction.

  • Leif81

    I totally agree. Wrote also a german comparison one or two days ago and Streamzoo was the clear winner.

    Another few advantages I saw in Streamzoo:

    – there is a fullscreen view of pictures without the comments and you can even zoom in
    – you can scroll to an unlimited list of photos and it always automatically loads the next ones. on instagram you get this boring “load more” button
    – since the last update Streamzoo also supports to set a whole account or single pictures private
    – Streamzoo has some kind of #tag history / autocomplete which gets very useful- the maturity of the Streamzoo community seems to be bit higher. IG has many great members too but when you comare the popular wall of Streamzoo with the public wall of IG you see a big difference in the pictures as well as the comments
    – you can follow hashtags/streams on streamzoo which makes discovering new people much easier. on IG you always have to start a new search- Streamzoo is very responsive to wishes from the community while IG is known for being good in ignoring any kind of suggestions

    There’s also a discussion on mobograf where some people posted their thoughts about IG. Most prefer Streamzoo, even many people who used IG for a long time on iOS. I think many plattforms loose quality when they grow too fast and it seems like that happened to IG already many months ago. And personally I don’t care if a community has 1-2 million or 30 million user – I can maybe just keep up with 100-200 peoples fotos, everything more would be too much to enjoy. So in my opinion quality of community and app > quantity of users.

  • Eungang

    An excellent breakdown of both apps, and agree wholeheartedly, Streamzoo is fabulous. In all fairness, you left out one major upside with Instagram, which is their API. To my knowledge, Streamzoo has yet to release one. There are quite a few iOS apps built using the Instagram API which have augmented the IG experience greatly, the most recent being full upload integration from Hipstamatic, another iOS app with monolith success. Streamzoo need to step up to the plate with an API which other app dev’s can create something…

    • Leif81

      On Android those APIs are usually not really necessary. Most apps have the Android sharing menu included so you can just publish it this way to Streamzoo – that’s my workflow. 

    • Manish Vaidya

      Streamzoo has well defined API’s available for programmers. Just email and we will be happy to share those with you or anyone

  • Raja

    How about lightbox…??

  • Els

    I’m on iPhone, but the points you raised are still valid for that
    version of the apps too, and I agree on the outcome. However, to be
    fair, you did miss one advantage of Instagram that Streamzoo doesn’t

    On Instagram, you can see all the images you liked from others, together
    on one page, and discover new people by seeing what your friends liked via the activity stream. That’s something Streamzoo doesn’thave (yet).

    • ace

      On streamzoo you can see what your friends liked and also you can see who they gave shoutouts to

      • Els

        I know I can see their shoutouts (that’s the point of them I think), and since I wrote the above comment, you can now indeed see all the pics you liked together in one place, but I’m not aware of being able to see what my friends liked. Where do you see that?

  • guestAnna

    Love streamzoo (use it on an Android phone plus ipad). Installed Instagram but am a bit lost. Have to say that I do not have many friends on either, I just like it for the photos themselves. Rather like a photo gallery in my hand (I used to visit the real, stone ones before I had children, ha). 

  • Arlenefisher

    I see my friends posting pics from Instagram,but i’m going to try something different..hope i like it!

  • Jesslaw

    i have both :D  love them both :) i agree with pretty much all this, good breakdown :) for me i got heaps more followers (and quicker too) using streamzoo…

  • ace

    I have both but to be honest I like steamzoo better as more people see n appreciate my pictures more due to the #stream unlike on instagram where not many people do

  • Jagb

    i have got both them installed but i prefer streamzoo so much more. more flexibility and the use of the site is better. users seem much more willing to comment on and like your photos too as i post each photo on both and get more likes/comments from streamzoo everytime. 

  • Su Dhaubhadel

    Streamzoo MUCH BETTER :D

  • Muhammad Rizki Akbar Faizal

     My brother has an android, and he has downloaded the instag and the streamzoo. The first time i use instagram, i was thinking like, “omg, my friend talked about it and it looks really god, but what the hell i’m doing here???”. When i use streamzoo, i was thinking like, “Yeah, it’s the same as instagram, but with a lot of unique effects and a completely unique badge! I love it!”. Now, i only have 2 followers on Instagram (Because i don’t use it anymore) and 18 followers on Streamzoo (Yeah, i have a lot of hashtags to make me popular). The conclusion is, Streamzoo is Much Better than Instagram!!! *Btw, my streamzoo acc is @rizkyakbarindo:disqus  . Please follow, hehehe… :P *


  • Jayesh

    Iam a android only user. I never even tried Instagram on my first android device. But since i got my Galaxy S III I have been using Stremzoo and loving it. I actually searched on google play for the best photo sharing app and as everyone knows it would come up with Instagram. But im very much happy using Streamzoo and would never change over to Instagram even though they add new features to it. Streamzoo is the best.

  • mleka

    Round 6… Adds… Who is the winner? :)

  • Raydere

    Okay, so I’m mistaken, the 5 follower requirement only applies to the desktop site.

  • Raydere

    Okay, so I’m mistaken, the 5 follower requirement only applies to the desktop site.

  • Esley Loove

    I’d say Streamzoo also wins round 3 because all the tags goes to description and once u type in the # symbol you see all the tags theey u ever used. Instagram doesn’t have description function so in instagram u have to put tags in the name of the picture and sometimes they can get annoying. Also, Instagram uses waaaaay more space on the phone (or SD card) than Streamzoo. I’m using the android version. Maybe it has this problem only on android. i don’t know. However I use both, Instagram and Streamzoo. Feel free to follow EsleyLoove :)

  • Valeria

    I just got on Streamzoo
    Follow me??

  • mikey

    I find I get more comments and likes on instagram … I get virtually zero on streamzoo

  • o

    anyone on streamzoo follow me muslimah_style I just made one last night :) I like it. Lets poplulate streamzoo too many people on instagram

  • unknown

    Personally I perfer ig,way easier to use

  • @cat78

    Streamzoo wins hands down.

  • Abdulrahman Kublan

    I didn’t use StreamZoo yet, but I think I will!


    Follow me on instagram: larissafelicianoj
    Follow me on streamzoo: larifeliciano.

  • craig s

    I started out with IG a few months ago and have about 300 followers (user chileheadcraig), but the SPAM is horrendus on there. I spend half my time deleting spam. How is the spam on Streamzoo?

  • ѕ α n т α я α υ н ℓ♥

    Tbh i bought an Android just for Instagram. But idk why people hype it so much, it’s nothing special tbh xP Streamzoo is faaar more better. The thing why I’m more on Instagram than on Streamzoo is because my pics do get appreciation on IG but on Streamzoo, hardly anyone notices xD I wish more poeple would go on SZ! It’s amazing :D

  • Ariston Darmayuda

    I like SZ for the photo dimension, Instagram lock our pics to 1:1 ratio so your upload will always square, while SZ allow 16:9 ratio landscape or portrait. I just hope that SZ keep their system cleaner than Inst, like scam and spam user, I just don’t like they like my pic and comment with website promotion (that -2 to Inst).

  • mirland

    Just curious,

    how do you feel about streamzoo’s privacy policy?

    Is this a risk for hacking into personnal accounts through the phone system which usually connects to personnal email, facebook, etc.? What have you heard about this issue?

  • Stephen Willis

    I got a streamzoo account on my Android before I could get an instagram since instagram only works on the newest version of Android. I initially wanted an instagram account but sought an alternative. I got a streamzoo account and loved it. When I was finally able to get an instagram account, I was disappointed after using streamzoo which I quickly realized was a much better platform. The only upside to instagram is that I have friends that use it. One feature on streamzoo not mentioned (I may have missed it) is the ability to follow specific feeds.

  • Eric

    I’ve used Instagram for yaers (since I was an iPhone guy in the past)shhh. With my Android I do have both but I very rarely touch Instagram anymore. Streamzoo is just way better. I’m surprised more people haven’t found out about this awesome app.

  • DutchSkyWatcher

    I prefer Streamzoo.
    I also had 2 Instagram accounts but since Fakebook take them over, and censored many pictures (and having the right to sell your pics, because they ‘own’ them) I have decided to delete both accounts.

    Streamzoo is so much better, video’s/panorama’s anything you want.
    But i have to admit IG is a lot more user friendly. Streamzoo’s oversight is a bit difficult.

  • Dustin

    Check out my StreamZoo gallery!! ★☆★☆ @Starfool