We Don't Really Need an Instagram iPad App

The iPad web app is way better

Key Takeaways

  • Facebook has owned Instagram for ten years.
  • It still hasn’t managed to create an iPad version of its app.
  • The web app offers full-screen Instagram, a home-screen icon, and (maybe) no ads.
scrolling through photos and managing Instagram activity on iPhone


Ten years after acquiring Instagram for $1 billion, Facebook apparently still hasn’t saved up enough cash to create an iPad version of the app. 

Just this week, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri Tweeted that iPad users are “still just not a big enough group of people to be a priority.” Meanwhile, Apple sold $7.2 billion worth of iPads in its last reported quarter. Clearly, Instagram doesn’t care about the iPad, but it’s certainly not down to the number of users. But do iPad users really need the Instagram app anyway? Meanwhile, tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee voiced the question we all wanted to ask:

“Ok, so I’m clearly not an executive for a reason, but hear me out—maybe that group gets way bigger when an excellent app actually does exist?” asked Brownlee on Twitter. 

Why Won’t Instagram Make an iPad App?

Plenty of small, independent, one-person app development shops manage to create iPad, iPhone, and even Mac versions of their software. Mosseri says on Twitter that Instagram is “leaner than you think,” but really?

Perhaps, then, it’s more to do with how iPad owners might use the app. The point of Instagram, like all social networks, is engagement over all else. That means sharing, as well as “consuming” photos, videos, and stories. 

woman photographing foggy mountain lake with digital tablet

Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd / Getty Images

The iPad is a fantastic way to view Instagram. The photos are way bigger, for a start, but it’s a terrible way to share photos. Even today, you look pretty dorky when you hold up a full-sized iPad to snap a photo. Could it be that Instagram wants to keep all its users on phones so they can more easily “engage” with the service?

Or perhaps it’s down to buying stuff. iPhone users are likely to have Apple Pay already set up or at least have their credit card on file for quick payments. The latter is true for Android users, too. But because we use our iPads less for day-to-day shopping (you can’t even use it for in-store Apple Pay), maybe we’re less likely to spend?

Still, the good news is it doesn’t matter that we can’t get a full-sized iPad app because the web app is more than enough. Better, in fact, than the iPhone app. 

No App, No Problem

Yes, I said web app. You can open the Instagram site in your iPad’s Safari browser, and it all works great. You can view your timeline and even upload new photos.

But if you tap the share arrow, scroll down to the Add to Home Screen entry in the menu, and tap it, you’ll add an icon to your iPad’s home page. Tap that icon, and instead of opening Safari, like a regular bookmark, you’ll launch the web app.

This behaves just like a regular app. It has its own panel in the app switcher, and it works perfectly. You can even view stories and send messages. 

In fact, the Instagram web app is better than the real app. For one thing, it’s full size on the iPad screen, which is nice on the iPad mini, but amazing on the big 12.9-inch iPad Pro. You can also view the Instagram web app in the spot-screen view, next to another app, which you can’t do if you use the iPhone version on the iPad.

Next, you don’t get any ads. I’m not sure if it’s because of my ad-blocking setup, but I see zero ads on the web version. 

Instagram web app on iPad

Lifewire / Charlie Sorrel

So good is the web app experience (and remember, once you’ve set it up, it behaves just like a regular app) that you might be tempted to use it on your iPhone, too. Just remember, you can’t use the camera to take photos in the app, although you can upload photos already in your photo library.

And if you don’t want to do it this way, perhaps because you don’t want Facebook to track your web use, then the iPhone app is still pretty good on the iPad.

“I use Instagram on iPad all the time,” designer Graham Bower told Lifewire via direct message. “It’s much better now that iPhone apps support landscape mode.”

Not everyone agrees. “I have [the app] installed, but pull out my phone instead of using that hot mess on iPad,” photographer and software engineer Sam Posten told Lifewire via direct message. 

So, while Instagram continues to procrastinate on building an iPad app, iPad users can be happy with the superior experience of the web app version and use our phones whenever we want to catch those sweet, sweet targeted ads. It’s a total win-win.

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