Magnifying glass
Credit: By Ivy Dawned on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Devices: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Cost: Free

How is it of use to journalists? The Guardian, CNN, and The Boston Globe are just three news outlets who are using Instagram to add context to their reporting and source user-generated content from the online community.

Within Instagram itself you can only search content by user or hashtag, so for those wanting to search for an image in Instagram within a specific time frame or location, it is worth taking a look at Pixifly, a free iOS app which enables you to do a geo-located search of public Instagram photos, posted on a particular date.

To get started, log in using your Instagram credentials and allow Pixifly access to use your current location. (You can deny this access if you wish, but you will not be able to search for photographs posted nearby without inputting your specific location or postcode.)

By default, Pixifly shows a feed of images posted within one mile of your current location within the last 30 days.

You can see these results on a map by tapping the map icon at the top left-hand side of your screen. Pixifly will display a map of thumbnail images within your search area, and tapping an image will show the date and time it was posted, and the name of the user that posted it.

You can tap the information icon ('i') to see the full-size image. Tap the three small dots in the bottom left corner of the image to save it to your camera roll, or to see it on its own on a map.

Here, if there is a particular user who is frequently posting photos which are irrelevant to your search, you can remove them from your results by tapping 'block user'.

To broaden your search, or to search a different location or date, tap the magnifying glass icon at the top right of your screen.

You will get a larger set of search results by entering the name of a city, region or even a country, and setting setting a wider search radius (up to three miles).

On the other hand, you can narrow your results by entering a specific postcode and limiting the search distance to something between 100 feet and 1,000 feet.

To search a different date, swipe the slide button alongside 'right now' to 'off', which will bring up the option to search by a specific date and time.

Screengrab from Pixifly showing Instagram search results for London

At the moment, there is no function to search within a specific time frame, so if you want to find photos posted over the course of a few days or a week, it means searching each day individually.

Alternatively, of course, you could search within the last 30 days and look out for images posted specifically on the days you want, but that could prove tricky if a lot of photos have been posted in that area.

It would also be useful to be able to search for a specific keyword or hashtag within your chosen area.

And of course, Pixifly will only show images that users have decided to post publicly to Instagram.

A nice function of the app is that you can share up to four photos to Twitter or Facebook by tapping the upload icon in the top right corner. You can also send them by email, which would be a quicker way of transferring multiple images to other colleagues in the newsroom rather than saving them individually to your camera roll and sending them one-by-one.

You can save any searches you might want to do regularly by tapping the buddy icon at the top right of the screen and tapping 'add to favourites'. Here you can also view any previously saves searches.

As with any images sourced from social media, if you are using the content in your reporting online you should get permission to use it and must provide an appropriate credit to the user.

At the moment, Pixifly is only available for iOS devices, although its website states that an app for Andoid, Blackberry and Windows Phones is on the way.

Tipster: Nicole Mooradian

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