Instagram is the undisputed king of mobile photography, for better or worse. And while there’s been no shortage of competitors over the years, none has gotten anywhere near the popularity of the OG IG, thanks in no small part to it having the might of Meta (nee Facebook) behind it.
One that I’ve been using for much of 2023, however, is Glass. It’s been around since August 2021 and bills itself as “a true community platform for photographers.” And as such, it’s really good. It’s not meant for taking pictures in the moment and spewing them out in real time — it’s for uploading and viewing only, with no camera capability in the app. Nor does it have a habit of stealing features from Snapchat and TikTok, so no Stories or Reels. And images are in much higher resolution than what you’ll find on Instagram.
It also doesn’t have any advertising. Or influencers. Or public like counts. It’s all photos, all the time, with cool features for searching by category, member, cameras, or even individual lenses, which makes it possible to easily find some remarkably rare shots. And Glass is available pretty much anywhere you’d want it, from phone and tablets (yes, the tablet experience is excellent, something Instagram still hasn’t bothered with),to a web browser at Glass.photo.
Those are some of the biggest differences between Glass and Instagram. Another — probably the biggest — is that you have to pay to post or actually follow anyone on Glass (you can view individual accounts — here’s mine, for instance). And starting in 2024, the cost of membership is going up a bit, from $30 a year to $40 a year. There’s also a “Patron” membership that gets you early access to features as they’re being worked on, and three annual memberships to share with friends. That’s going up from $99 to $130 annually.
If you sign up before December 31, you can lock in those 2023 prices for one more year. (And Glass is offering a $10 credit to current members if they ask, which at least extends the transition.)
Is any of that worth it? I suppose it depends. If you’re a professional photographer, or a semi-pro who likes to see cool stuff and share cool stuff — or if you’re just over the whole Instagram thing at this point, which is completely understandable — it might be.