The Next Web reports for Instagram that times are a-changing. There are essentially two kinds of app in Instagram’s ‘add a pretty filter’ space:

  • Highly entertaining apps that evoke old-school instant camera charm by live-applying a filter, so you can see what you’re going to get. This is Instagram today.
  • Hum-drum apps where you take a photo in a normal, boring way and then spend several days arsing about with countless filters, before more or less choosing one at random, because the alternative is starving to death with a smartphone in your hand, which would be really dumb. This is Instagram tomorrow.

The m0st astonishing aspect of this story comes from Instagram itself, via the known issues site.

As of the current release (v3.1), Instagram does not support live filters on the iPhone 5. Going forward, live filters will be phased out as we work to improve the Instagram experience for all users.

That last sentence is very important and warrants breaking up into chunks:

as we work to improve the Instagram experience

What? How are you improving the Instagram experience by removing something that is core to the Instagram experience?

for all users.

Oh. So Instagram’s boarded the lowest-common denominator train. Next stop: Shitappsville.

UPDATE: Ha! So, on Twitter the response has been split between “Instagram are idiots” and “I never even knew live filters existed”, so perhaps this is also a case of Instagram stamping on a tricky engineering problem related to a feature not used by enough people for them to think it matters. (That said, Android users have responded, grumbling that they’d really like live filters.) Regardless, it’s still a pity to see an app that’s like a ton of point-and-clicks in your pocket get downgraded to one of a billion apply-a-filter-later apps welded to a social network.