Instagram is far from Instant.

It is not their fault and I’m proposing the preposterous: For Apple to add a button.

The first digital cameras were painfully slow. Digital SLR’s were ready in an instant and made photography fun again. And when compact cameras were closing in on a decent speed; they were displaced by our smartphones and the roller coaster that is camera responsiveness hit another dull.

These days your camera is never ready when you are. Multifunction devices have to subdivide its limited resources and that makes for a lot of overhead; switch mode, launch app, initialize camera. And the train has long since left the station –so to speak.

Your smartphone needs dedicated hardware for camera operations, the photo sensor must be ready at all times1. This inevitably leads to increased costs and likely to lowered battery performance –Not to speak of one more of the appalling buttons. But it is all worth it; facilitating a grab of the total compact camera market.

The new button will be context aware but always devoted to the camera. The iPhone volume-up button may go back to focus on just that; no more moonlighting as a shutter button (as per iOS 52).

  • When the camera app is inactive, a press on the new button will launch it.
  • Every press captures a photo, even outside the camera app. As a remedy for the most fleeting of photo ops; you shoot instantly from the hip, and when the app is ready, you may review the results or continue to shoot assisted by the viewfinder.
  • Press and hold the button momentarily to record video. The subsequent press stops recording.

The entire photo app ecosystem will benefit from this and what is more: Instagram becomes instant.

  1. Motion sensing could potentially be used to regulate power consumption, activating the hardware when it detects motion, like an eager remote.

  2. iOS 5 will make the camera app more accessible but it will not improve the response time.