Messagegram’s purpose is to allow its users to post “graphical texts” to the popular photo-based mobile-social network Instagram. Using the app, it’s possible to compose a message of up to 140 characters, choose a background and then share it online.
Opening the app prompts users to tap on a button to begin composing. A window appears on screen with a character count (and a banner ad if using the free version). On the next screen, the user is able to preview how their message will look using a variety of different templates, though only a limited selection of these are available in the free version. If the user taps on a “locked” template in the free version, they will be taken to a five-page ad for the Pro version outlining its benefits, and can tap a button to upgrade. Upgrading does not occur via in-app purchase, however — it simply takes the user to the App Store listing of the Pro version and as such the user must start composing their text again when the new version is installed.
Once the user has chosen their template, they see a full-size preview of it as it will appear on Instagram, and then have two options — sharing it to Instagram (which actually simply opens a standard iOS Open With… menu to open the Instagram app, assuming it is installed) or editing it. Editing is a feature limited to Pro users — again, those using the free version of the app will see the five-page ad if they tap on the Edit button.
Editing allows users to customize their message in several ways. The font of the message can be changed from the template’s default, frames can be added, colors customized and graphical stickers added. The Pro version boasts more than 60 backgrounds, 50 fonts, 15 frames and 50 stickers for users to try out; the free version only offers 14 non-customizable templates to use. It would perhaps have been better for the free version of the app to give users a limited taste of how the customization facilities work rather than locking them out altogether — as it stands, it’s not entirely clear what they’re paying for by upgrading to the Pro version. Granted, it is only a $0.99 outlay to find out, but it’s likely that many users would appreciate the opportunity to test-drive these features before paying for them.
The whole Messagegram app is riddled with aspects that could have been made much better with just a little extra thinking through. There’s no real reason that the app should only be able to share to Instagram, for example — posting quotes and motivational messages on attractive graphical backgrounds is particularly popular on networks such as Facebook and Pinterest, so it’s curious as to why these networks are not supported. That said, the app doesn’t even directly interface with the Instagram API — it simply passes the image on to the Instagram app, which must be installed beforehand. There’s also no facility to save images to the device’s camera roll directly from within the app, either, so users without an Instagram account are out of luck if they want to share their creations online.
On the whole, Messagegram is a competent app for those who primarily want to share their creations on Instagram, but limited in its usefulness and very inflexible. It would be better with a wider variety of supported social networks rather than the focus solely on Instagram, and the free version would also benefit from a few additional features to give users a taste of Pro functionality. As it stands, it’s not a bad app as such, but neither is it an essential download.
You can follow the progress of the two versions of MessageGram with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.