Android users, the time has almost come. Instagram, the popular photo-filtering and sharing app, is on its way to Google’s mobile operating system.

Co-founder Kevin Systrom announced at SXSW Sunday that the long-awaited Android version of Instagram is nearly here. He teased the version on stage, but didn’t provide a demo. The Android version is currently being tested in private beta and will be released “very soon.”

“In some ways, it’s better than our iOS app. It’s crazy,” Systrom said. In a Q&A following his presentation, Systrom said the app is fast, works great on large screens and can share photos to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other networks.

What took the startup so long to bring what’s clearly an extremely popular app to Android? “I don’t think it took us so long. We just had priorities. Had we tried to be both on Android and iPhone at the same time, it would’ve been tough to innovate in the way that we have,” he said.

Systrom announced, in December of last year at LeWeb, that the Android app was in development. Knowing that it’s in testing now means Instagram for Android is at least that much closer to release — but nothing more specific.

Systrom also announced Sunday that the iOS version of Instagram — which was named Apple’s iOS app of the year last year — has seen some 27 million downloads.


BONUS: The Best Instagram Photos Ever Taken


 

1. Maura Grace (@folkfibers)

Josh Riedel: “I love the way you can travel through photos. Maura (@folkfibers) travels the USA in her VW van, and her photos take you along for the ride. I like to imagine Maura pulling to the side of the road and leaning out her window to snap this shot as she’s leaving the park.”

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1. GifBoom




The free app we’re using is “GifBoom: Animated GIF Camera” from TapMojo.

It is available for both the iPhone and Android phones.

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Did you know you can whip up tasty animated GIFs on your iPhone or Android handset, in seconds, free? We’ve found a superb app that will help you animate photographs and GIF-icize video.

Whether you want to join in with a popular meme, give a social avatar a bit of motion enhancement or just create something that will make your friends laugh, we have a super-simple way to do it.

SEE ALSO: 10 Hilarious Animated GIFs that Took the Web by Storm

Take a look through the gallery for our easy-peasy walkthrough. Just remember to use your newly-found, GIF-making superpowers wisely!

More About: android, Android apps, apple, features, iphone, iphone apps, iphotography, photo editing, photography, trending

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1. Android: Pulse News

Pulse News offers Android owners a visually pleasing way to catch up on current affairs and other web content, on and offline. Feeds are collated into a colorful and interactive mosaic homescreen. Sharing is simple, and the apps hosts read later options via Instapaper, Read it Later, Evernote and Google Reader.

Cost: Free

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The apps market continued to grow in 2011, with millions of apps now available across the major mobile platforms.

With so many apps out there, it’s easy to miss out on a must-have mobile tool. We have rounded up our favorite apps of 2011 for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 so you can check to see what you may have missed.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Apps Downloaded in 2011

Take a look through our app gallery. Obviously this list can be debated endlessly, so let us know in the comments which apps you consider the best of the past year.

More About: android, Android apps, apple, features, iphone, iphone apps, trending, windows phone 7, Year End 2011

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It’s the first birthday of Foodspotting, an iPhone photo app and website that concentrates on pictures of the foods available at restaurants, rather than the restaurants themselves.

The app’s official launch was a year ago today (January 15), and since then, it’s collected 250,000 images of dish recommendations. This week, Foodspotting received $3 million in funding from BlueRun Ventures, and over the past year has enjoyed 550,000 downloads of its app and 300,000 visitors to its website each month. It’s released a beta version of its Android app, and boasts partnerships with household names such as the Travel Channel, Whole Foods and Zagat.

In addition, Foodspotting offered us a fun fact: Half its 7-person team has a food-related last name, such as Grub, Cao (pronounced “Chow”) and Tang.

The location-based app finds pics of foods available nearby, beckoning users with their steamy goodness, or repelling them with their grossness — either way, users get a good look at what they’ll eat, rather than reading a menu and taking their chances. And, the app can snap iPhone pics, encouraging users to leave evidence for those who are wondering what dishes are served in a restaurant.

Foodspotting calls January 15 “World Foodspotting Day,” with more than 100 meetups all over the planet. Find one near you, and if you contribute a pic of a cake, you’ll get a birthday badge.

In the meantime, let’s feast our eyes on Foodspotting’s Top 10 greatest hits, the 10 most popular foods photographed by users of the Foodspotting iPhone app, here in all their mouth-watering goodness:

10. Assorted Cheeses

From the Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop in San Francisco

9. Deep Dish Pizza

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, Oakland, CA

8. Ice Cream Sandwich

Diddy Riese, Westwood, CA.

7. Double Animal Burger

In N Out Burger, Hollywood, CA

6. Morning Buns

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

5. Pommes Frites (French Fries)

Pommes Frites, New York, NY

4. Secret Breakfast Ice Cream

Humphry Slocombe, San Francisco

3. Pastrami Sandwich

Katz’s Delicatessen, New York, NY

2. Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Bi Rite Creamery, San Francisco

1. Shack Burger

Shake Shack, New York, NY

Images courtesy of Foodspotting

More About: Android apps, birthday, Food, foodies, foodspotting, gallery, iphone apps, pics, trending