Can You Get Instagram on Apple Watch?

Yes, but only with a third-party app

Instagram Explore feed on Apple Watch via Lens

Facebook-owned Instagram removed its native app from Apple Watch back in 2018, leaving us all high and dry if we wanted to use Instagram for Apple Watch to scroll through our photos from the social network.

How to Get Instagram on Apple Watch

Luckily, a third-party developer stepped in with Lens, a fairly full-featured app that makes Instagram for Apple Watch possible again, and then some. In fact, Lens has more features from Insta than the original native app, like commenting on posts, liking posts, viewing videos, searching for users, and replying to direct messages. 

You can also just view your feed, check out the Explore tab, find your activity and stories, and see user profiles and direct messages. It’s all there. 

Here’s how to get it on your own wrist.

  1. First up, use your iPhone to head over to the App Store and download Lens. This will put the app on your iPhone.

    Get, Open, Double Click to Pay buttons on App Store app
  2. Next, launch the Lens app. Tap Login to Instagram. If you get a message stating, “Lens is not installed on the watch!” then tap OK and head to your Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

    Lens icon, Login to Instagram, Ok button
  3. Enable Lens with the toggle in the Apple Watch app. You’ll want it to be green. 

    Watch icon, Lens button, toggle to show on Apple Watch set to green
  4. Head back into Lens on your iPhone and log in to Instagram using your Facebook login info or email/password. You may need a code from Facebook’s Code Generator to continue.

    To find that in your Facebook app, tap the three horizontal line menu in the lower right, then scroll down and tap Settings & Privacy > Code Generator. Tap the code you see to copy to your clipboard, then go back to Lens and paste it into the field provided. Tap Continue to save the browser so you don’t have to do this every time.

    Code Generator, code, Paste in Facebook
  5. Now go to your Apple Watch and launch Lens there. 

  6. Press the Digital Crown on your watch to open the app grid. Swipe around and tap the Lens icon to launch Lens.

  7. You’ll see a list of options that will take you to various Instagram features, like Home, Stories, Activity, Explore, Messages, Profile, and Search. 

    Swipe arrow, Lens icon, Lens Instagram feed on Apple Watch
  8. Home shows you your basic Instagram feed with posts from your friends. Turn the Digital Crown to scroll up or down through the feed. You can tap the heart icon to like posts or tap the speech bubble icon to comment—both are just below the photo. 

    If you tap the speech bubble, you can then tap Add a Comment. You’ll have your choice of text entry, including dictation, scribbles, emoji and FlickType Keyboard, a third-party app that will download the first time you choose it. 

    Speech bubble, Add a Comment button, text-entry options on Lens for Apple Watch

    If you comment, you won’t be able to edit it, just like a regular Instagram comment. 

  9. Tap Activity to see all the activity on your Instagram account; tap Explore to see a feed Instagram’s algorithms thinks you might like. tap Profile to see exactly what you’d expect; your photo, follower and post counts, and a feed of the photos and videos you’ve uploaded to Instagram. 

    The Activity and Profile screens for Lens app on Apple Watch
  10. Tap Search to bring up the text entry options again, including a list of accounts with your search term in them. Scroll with the Digital Crown and tap through to see individual feeds. 

    Text entry screen, search term, search results on Lens for Apple Watch

Tap Stories and you're told this is a Lens Pro feature, which you can upgrade to via your iPhone for $1.99. Messages doesn’t seem to be working; perhaps this will be fixed in a future version.

This is Instagram for Apple Watch

Overall, Lens is the app you wish Instagram had made. It includes pretty much everything you’d want to peruse Instagram on your Apple Watch, and should satisfy most users in terms of feature set. Upgrading for such a low price to get Stories, too, is pretty much a no-brainer.