I promised myself when I released John’s Background Switcher 4.5 a couple of months ago that I’d take a break and go build some iPhone applications I’ve been thinking about. I’m primarily a Mac user now so JBS (currently Windows only) isn’t something I really use and after 8 years working on it in my spare time I figured I’d taken it as far as I could. In short, it was time to work on something else.
Then, while taking a photo with Instagram (you know, that iPhone / Android photo app that Facebook bought for $1 billion), it struck me how cool it would be to add Instagram as a photo source to JBS. Instagram forces you to take square photos and JBS has a few options that make square photos look awesome. With JBS you can make it set your desktop background to a single picture (with a different one on each monitor if you have more than one) and that’s fine, but it can also create cool montages like a mosaic, postcard pile or a polaroid pile like these below:
Since Instagram was cool enough for Facebook to acquire I figured it might be cool enough that people would want to see Instagram photos on their desktop. So following a weekend’s work I’m rather pleased to release a new version of John’s Background Switcher that supports Instagram! (Those montages above were in fact created by JBS using Instagram photos).
Once you’ve installed JBS and brought up the settings window you can click ‘Add’ then ‘Instagram photos’ where you’ll be prompted to authenticate with Instagram:
You’ll need to have an Instagram account to use the JBS integration, so log in and you’ll be able to let JBS (on your computer only) read your feed. You can revoke access at any time from the Authorized Applications page on Instagram. Once you’ve authenticated you can create ‘sets’ from any of these options:
- Your own photos
- Your photo feed (the one you see when you fire up the Instagram mobile app)
- Popular photos (the same photos from the mobile app)
- Photos you’ve liked
- Tags (add a tag and JBS will choose photos with that tag)
You can add all of the above and create as many sets as you like (so if you like photos of sunsets, sunrises, cats, lhasa apsos and hamsters, create a set for each tag).
Since Instagram photos are pretty small it won’t work very well if you use a single picture for your desktop, instead choose either a mosaic, postcard pile or polaroid pile for best results. You can select the picture mode here from the settings window:
Anyway, go to the download page, get yourself a copy of JBS (which is completely free) and enjoy! If you want to help me keep staying up late by drinking coffee and making JBS better, there’s a donate button right on the download page.
Update (2016): Note that as of June 2016 Instagram disabled API access to your own photo feed. This means JBS and apps like it can only show you your own Instagram photos.
Update (2021): Unfortunately Facebook decided that to access the Instagram API you need to be a verified business so the party is over – JBS no longer supports Instagram. It was fun in the early (pre-Facebook) days but all good things inevitably come to an end (post acquisition).