Instagram toughens brand guidelines to discourage lookalike apps

Like many developers, Instagram defends itself against clone apps and other clear abuses of its image. However, the photo-focused social network is now cracking down on subtler variations of its branding. The company has updated its brand guidelines to forbid Instagram-compatible services from including "insta" or "gram" in their names; they also can't use modifications of Instagram's signature logo. These similar-looking offerings could be mistaken for officially endorsed products, according to Instagram. The firm isn't taking any offenses lightly, either. In a notice to Luxogram that was obtained by TechCrunch, Instagram asked for a response to its concerns within 48 hours, and required both logo and name changes within a "reasonable period." Given the abundance of third-party developers that lean on the Instagram name to lure customers, the tougher policy could spark some confusion as companies rebrand their services en masse.

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Looking for a little more consistent UI experience with your Android devices? Google is looking to make that happen as the folks in Mountain View has revealed that the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich OS will be the first Android software to institute design standards for developers. Android Design is a online repository for the UI guidelines and blueprints for version 4.0, which we learned would unify smartphones and tablets back at Google I/O. This set of information should make things all neat and tidy for ICS devices, keeping user interface characteristics a bit more cohesive from app to app. Here, devs will find all the basic info and elements that are native to platform in order to make the best applications possible for the OS. Mr. Duarte warns that if you choose to not follow the style guide, your software will stand out -- and not in a good way. He also quipped that these are indeed guidelines, not mandates. And that they will gain value as more folks adopt them. Yeah, we know... the competition from Cupertino has been doing this for a while now, but a bit more structure in the Android universe certainly won't draw any complaints from us.

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Are you concerned that your talky teenager is trying to keep up on the high school gossip whilst behind the wheel? Or are you a more experienced driver looking to get rid of the temptation to update your status at 65 MPH? Sprint's got you covered with Drive First. The app, announced by CEO Dan Hesse at CTIA in March, will lock up your phone when it detects you're in a moving vehicle; calls will be automatically redirected to voicemail and incoming texts can get automatically replied to with a customized message. The service costs $2 / month per phone after a 15-day trial, and unfortunately only is available for Android devices, though BlackBerry and Windows Phone support has been promised in the near future as well. We'd say the more the merrier -- for parents, that is. Head below for the full press release.

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