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Instagram is an online photo sharing service. It allows you to apply different types of photo filters to your pictures with a single click, then share them with others. While is a rather basic service, Instagram's simplicity has helped it gain widespread popularity.

While nearly all smartphones have built-in cameras, they often do not produce quality photos. By using Instagram, you can liven up otherwise mediocre images and make them look more professional. For example, Instagram's Valencia filter brightens photos and enhances the contrast, improving the appearance of drab photos. The Earlybird filter adds a slight blur to the image, warms the colors, and vignettes the corners, giving photos a softer look. You can also make more drastic changes to photos using a filter like "1977," which makes images look like vintage photographs taken with an old camera.

The two primary ways to use Instagram are the Instagram website (Instagram.com) and the Instagram app. The website allows you to upload images, manage your photos, apply filters, and share them with your friends. The app allows you to take pictures with your iPhone or Android device and immediately apply the filter of your choice. You can share your photos directly on Instagram.com or on other social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

NOTE: Instragram was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for approximately $1 billion.

Updated: May 1, 2014

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