There's a new Instagram out today—and because the Instagram team is smart, they're keeping the app simple. But there's one major change: you can see where all your friends have taken their pictures, all across the world. Awesome.
The (entirely optional, opt-in) photo map feature is pretty much perfect—graphically subtle while still giving you all of the information you need. Click a spot where your friend has taken shots, and you'll zoom in for more, showing an ever-greater degree of accuracy, down to the exact restaurant in which they recorded and applied a filter to a delicious cheddar omelette. When you zoom all the way in, you'll get a quick grid view of the snaps at the locale, which you can then tap again to like or comment, as you've always been able to. Zoom back out and search for the rest of their uploads.
Not only is it graceful, it's truly fun. Instagram has previously been a sort of disjointed visual experience—here are a bunch of pictures, and maybe there will be some hint of where they were taken. Maybe not! That might have added to the mystique of the app, but being able to scroll across a city or country and see what the people you know did there is kinda magical.
It also completely trumps Apple's similar native (but entirely non-social) geotagging feature, in both looks and what you can actually squeeze out of it.
It's also a hell of a lot more straightforward than Flickr's geotagged sprawl.
Instagram 3 somehow succeeds at spreading your photos across a giant map for everyone to see, while still making the whole thing feel intimate. Facebook: this is another thing you should plunder for your mobile app. [Instagram]