At Long Last: Pinterest for Android Is Here!

Finally! Pinterest has launched its official app for Android devices, which means you can now pin and browse to your heart’s content from wherever you are. Since it’s taken so long to see the light of day, expectations for this release are very high amongst power users and casual browsers alike. I took it for a spin to see how it matches up to its mighty web counterpart — and I must say, I’m impressed!

For those who came in late: Pinterest is a visual social bookmarking platform where you can find inspiration, ideas and even great deals on stuff you want to buy. Users ‘pin’ images (mostly from the web and sometimes from their own libraries) and enrich them with descriptions, tags and links. Apart from contributing to the ever-growing library of visually stimulating shareables, you can also browse what others have pinned, by going through categories or more specific collections called ‘boards’.

Pinterest's UI looks great from the very first screen

Pinterest’s UI looks great from the very first screen

Overview

The Pinterest Android app is great for those who’re already familiar with the web interface and also very welcoming to those who’ve never tried it before. It runs on smartphones and tablets running Android 2.2 and newer and is available for free in the Play Store. It’s packed with virtually every capability of the web app so you experience the Pinterest universe in all its glory.

The app looks great on tablets and smartphones

The app looks great on tablets and smartphones

Getting Started

If you haven’t used Pinterest before, you can quickly sign up from the Welcome screen or sign in with Facebook or Twitter. Existing users can sign in as usual. Once you’re in, you can begin to check out everything that’s being pinned (posted) by users.

The Interface

The Pinterest interface mimics the web app in appearance, but is optimized for usability and performance on touch devices. There are three main screens to interact with — the first being the Home screen where you can see all the recent pins made by you and the users/boards you follow. Swiping to your left will take you to the Categories screen, where you can choose a section to browse, or find something of interest with a search query.

The Android app does a great job of recreating the web app experience

The Android app does a great job of recreating the web app experience

Swiping from the Home screen to the right brings up the Profile screen where you can view your notifications, which let you know who’s following you and which of your pins users are liking and repinning (reposting). You can also access your own boards, pins, likes and your individual profile from here.

Browsing Pinterest

Whether you’re into photography, design, fashion, global cuisine, music, architecture, or even gaming, you’ll find something to occupy your time on Pinterest. The general trend around these parts is that users often create boards with a specific purpose, which means that if a pin catches your eye, chances are that it’s on a board with similar pins that you’ll like. For example, I have one called ‘Albums you should listen to in their entirety’, with album covers and links to their Amazon.com pages where you can hear and purchase them.

Exploring the world of Pinterest is a great way to find inspiration

Exploring the world of Pinterest is a great way to find inspiration

You can browse pins by category, and then tap on a pin to find its board and the user who pinned it, to explore said board or other boards created by that user, and even follow boards and users to keep up with new pins from them. The process is just as smooth on Android as it is on the web, with infinite scrolling and quick page loads across the app.

You can interact with Pinterest just as you would with a desktop browser

You can interact with Pinterest just as you would with a desktop browser

Pins can be liked and commented on, so you can always find them later if you need to. You can also tap the hardware Menu button to access options to share a pin via other social networks, or even save the image to your device. Repinning (similar to reblogging) is a breeze too, and takes only two taps, though you can choose to edit a pin’s description as well if you like.

Pinning

This is something I’d been curious about since I heard about the app’s launch. On desktop browsers, you can pin stuff from anywhere on the web using an extension for modern browsers or a bookmarklet, which allows you to select an image from a web page to pin, while appending the page’s URL to the pin. With the Android app, you can create pins by using your camera to take a photo or by importing an image from your device’s memory. You can add a description but can’t add a link.

Pinning is easy with the (mostly) full-featured Android app

Pinning is easy with the (mostly) full-featured Android app

This is perhaps one of the issues with the Android browser experience; support for bookmarklets and extensions that mimic that functionality haven’t yet made an appearance, and so you can’t create pins as efficiently as you would on the desktop — meaning that the Pinterest app is really much better suited to browsing (and repinning) than active curation, like it is on desktops.

Using Pinterest

I enjoy browsing Pinterest from time to time and find it useful for referencing designs and ideas for my photography and design projects, putting together mood boards, and even curating collections of links in a visually engaging way. It seems like the idea behind the service was always geared towards a casual browsing experience, for which tablets are the perfect solution.

Beautiful even in landscape mode

Beautiful even in landscape mode

There’s lots to see here: from connoisseurs’ boards of the very best of whatever they like to brands engaging their audiences with relevant content from the web, there’s something for everyone. Some of the categories don’t have the highest quality of content yet (such as the Photography section — I get my fix elsewhere), but I’m certain that thing will pick up over time as Pinterest gains momentum.

Conclusion

If you’re like me and enjoy (or may enjoy) browsing Pinterest, you’ll love the app. It’s a way better adaptation of a social web service than the Facebook for Android, and can get pretty addictive when you’re on a stroke of discovering beautiful things.

Again, I wish Pinterest’s app had better support for creating pins from the internet via my mobile browser, and hopefully we’ll see a solution for that in the next version. Until then, this is a great way to browse all that’s wonderful and shiny on the web, whether you’re on your couch or in a cab. Try the free app today, and if you like you can follow me on Pinterest!


Summary

Pinterest allows you to explore a world of curated visual content from around the web in a beautiful interface that's great for casual browsing.

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