What’s happening to Instagram? Their API is changing!

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Instagram's announcement

Instagram Platform and documentation update. Apps created on or after Nov 17, 2015 will start in Sandbox Mode and function on newly updated API rate-limits and behaviors. Prior to going Live, and being able to be used by people other than the developers of the app, these apps will have to go through a new review process. Please read the API documentation or the Change Log for more details.

Any app created before Nov 17, 2015 will continue to function until June 2016. After June 2016, the app will automatically be moved to Sandbox Mode if it wasn't approved through the review process.

What does it mean for JIG?

New users, or existing users who wish to setup the Instagram source for the first time:

If you register a client now, you'll only be able to use it live after Dec 3 and only if they approve your review request. Their review process will only allow apps to pass through that comply with their new rules, obviously. Unless you can convince them that you are not trying to replicate Instagram's native capabilities, they will likely not approve the app. JIG does bring unique capabilities such as showing photos from a location, which is not possible otherwise. However, Instagram wishes to display ads and they can't if people view content through 3rd party software such as JIG. For your information, keeping the app/client in Sandbox Mode (which you can do with Facebook apps) is not a good solution here as it only lets access to your own content and only the most recent media.

Existing users who already set up an app and have JIG galleries working with Instagram content:

Existing users who already created an app will be able to continue using the Instagram source until June 2016 (you are fine until this date). However, you'll need to have your Instagram client approved to use it beyond that date. This may prove to be a difficulty, as mentioned above.

So what will happen to this source?

If Instagram won't approve users' clients, the Instagram source may eventually get removed or no longer advertised as part of JIG. As long as it works for existing users, it'll remain in the plugin.

How does this affect other plugins? Is there any alternative?

Eventually, it will affect every Instagram plugin or 3rd party app that fetches content from Instagram.

  1. If a software (plugin, mobile application) uses its own Instagram app and lets customers and users connect to it through its own middleman server:
    The developer willl need to have the app reviewed and approved, else it'll cease to function but only after June 1st, 2016. Getting it approved will prove to be difficult since they've just changed their standpoint and no longer allow apps to replicate Instagram's features. Also, they are removing the feed endpoint and who knows what more. What will happen to all the Instagram gallery plugins? And presently how come these solutions don't hit the API rate limits, while it's basically just one app for all users? They all depend on the developer's single client.
  2. If a solution requires every user to set up their own Instagram apps (JIG is like this):
    New apps already start in sandbox mode, meaning that they are useless. Instagram's sillines shines here that you can't even have your new app reviewed and approved before Dec 3 but they made the change on Nov 17 out of the blue. Previously created apps will function only until June 1st, 2016 unless reviewed and approved for use.

Depending on how strict their review process is, this could mean the end of an era. It's like how Twitter changed their mind about their API some time ago, giving custom Twitter widgets a very hard time. Yet many themes still use those today. So maybe their approval is as easy to get as applying for a Flickr API key? Or more serious like Facebook's apps?

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This FAQ entry was posted in Content sources on November 29, 2015