When Instagram removed its half-baked Apple Watch app altogether, Instagrammers were left with no official client in sight. Enter Lens, a fully-featured unofficial client for Instagram which works without an iPhone and is much more capable than the discontinued watchOS app.
Functionally, many Apple Watch apps are too crippled to be taken seriously, but not Lens.
Lens supports nearly everything you can do in Instagram for iPhone, from liking post, viewing comments, commenting on post, displaying videos and searching for users to viewing and replying to direct messages, checking out your feed, viewing Stories and browsing profiles.
It also supports the excellent FlickType input method. Upon downloading the app, open Lens on your iPhone and log in with your Instagram user name and password in the app. From there on, you can use Lens without the phone provided your watch is connected to its own Wi-Fi or cellular.
From the main screen, you can jump right into your feed, check out new Stories from people you follow, see notifications and your activity, browse Instagram’s Explore tab, use Instagram’s direct messaging feature, open your profile or use search.
Browsing your Instagram timeline is surprisingly comfortable, even on older watches. You can, of course, scroll through your posts and watch photos and videos on the small screen. Just turn the Digital Crown or swipe vertically with your finger to scroll through your feed.
Tap the post to see the media or tap the heart or comment icons below the post to like the post or view comments. If you scroll to the post’s bottom, you’ll see an option to leave a comment of your own—it’s as easy as that and works like a charm! Lens even supports multi-image posts so that you can explore multiple shots in a gallery by swiping.
Next, you can view Stories on your wrist! It can take a while to load a Story, especially if you have an older Series 2 model, but no more than a few seconds. There’s something empowering knowing you can view these interactive ephemeral posts upon your wrist. And like on iPhone, tap left/center/right to go backward/pause/forward.
Instagram Direct is built right into Lens. You can see your direct message exchanges here and continue any chat right where you left off, with any changes made on the watch instantly reflected in Instagram for iPhone.
You can use the standard watchOS input methods to respond to messages, such as emoji, voice-to-text or Scribble for drawing out the characters.
These are all familiar to anyone who has used an Apple Watch for a couple of minutes—however, Lens also supports FlickType, a third-party gesture-driven keyboard for watchOS that works in apps that have implemented its API to integrate FlickType functionality.
The Profile section includes information from your Instagram profile, including your profile image, the number of published posts on your profile, how many followers you have, how many people you follow, when you last posted something to the service and what not.
All in all, Lens is one of the best, most feature-complete app for Apple Watch I have tried so far. Because it supports Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity on the watch itself, you can comment, like, browse, explore photos, watch videos and more, all without requiring your paired iPhone.
It takes advantage of nearly every modern watchOS feature. Even though you cannot watch live streams with Lens and uploading media is unsupported due to watchOS limitations, it truly supports nearly every Instagram feature you could ask for.
Lens is free to download, with a one-time $2 upgrade to unlock full functionality.
This article was originally posted here