Instagram is adding real-time notifications to its API. What this means in practice is that developers will now be able to get instant notifications when new photos are added by specific users or with specific tags, geo-tags or a more general location. Developers can now add subscriptions to these notifications to their apps.Today
For example, in the announcement Instagram's Kevin Systrom uses the example Foodspotting importing all of a user's photos from Instagram whenever the tag #food is used.
Instagram competitor PicPlz beat Instagram to market with an API earlier this month. Instagram quickly followed suit with tis own API. Systrom writes in the announcement, "At the end of the day, though, we really wanted to push our API to the next level to support a new kind of interaction around photos - one that supported the real-time nature of the content that people create on Instagram."
A demo of the new API can be found here. It's a simple display of Instagram photos being added in real-time. It uses Node.js to enable live updates. The source code for the demo can be found on Github. Systrom emphasizes how powerful this real-time API could be when paired with systems like Tornado and Node.js.
Systrom also writes that Flipboard is working with the API but "we're not quite ready to talk about it, all we can say is that it's very cool, and we believe it's a superlative experience for Instagram and Flipboard users."