A prototype of the Android Instragram app made an appearance at the South by Southwest conference Sunday, and the company’s founders say it is better than the iPhone app. The Verge reports:

Today at SXSW, Instagram's Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger told Alexia Tsotsis that an Android version of the app is coming "really soon." We've heard this for several months now, but it seems that the app is finally getting close to launch. On stage, Systrom pulled out a Galaxy Nexus running a prototype of the app, and flashed it at the crowd. He said, "it's one of the most amazing Android apps you'll ever see," and continued, "in some ways, it's better than our iPhone app." The app is currently in private beta, and the team hopes "to have it out to people really soon." During the session's Q&A, he added that the Android app is incredibly fast, works great on a range of larger screens, and has sharing functionality with Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.

Additionally, Systrom confirmed that Instagram has grown to over 27 million registered users, nearly double the 15 million announced back in December 2011. He explained much of the enormous growth came from the launch of the iPhone 4S, followed by Apple highlighting the app as App of the Year.

Speaking of SXSW, the star of the tech conference may be Highlight, a location-based social app. The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama reports:

The South by Southwest Conference and Music Festival has kicked off in Austin, Tex., and the annual “Woodstock for geeks” comes with its normal dose of big, big buzz.

The app that’s been flagged as the one to watch this year is Highlight, an iOS-only app that hooks into users’ Facebook accounts to let them find others who’ve installed the app. According to the developer Math Camp, the app is meant to give you a “sixth sense” about the world around you.

Highlight runs in the background, but sends users’ push alerts when the app finds other users in their general area. You can click on the names of other Highlight users, and check out their public Facebook profiles, including basic information, photos as well as Twitter accounts. You can make the information public. Those who are worried about battery life should know that the app requires constant access to location data, which can be a serious drain on power.

Other apps that are expected to break out this year, Mashable reported, include photo app Pixable, local-based Q&A app Localmind and Sonar, an app that uses public data from several different social networks — Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and LinkedIn— to tell you who’s posting nearby.

Three years after launching at SXSW, social networking site Gowalla, recently purchased by Facebook, is no more. VentureBeat.com reports.

Gowalla’s website now loads to a page that says, “”Thank you for going out with Gowalla. It was a pleasure to journey with you around the world. Download your check-ins, photos, and lists here soon.”

It’s an appropriate time to take the service completely offline as well. The company launched at South-By-Southwest, an interactive conference, in 2009. The conference known for helping mobile and social companies get off the ground – Twitter and Foursquare got their starts here –is taking place this week in Austin, Texas. The company went through ups and downs, however, changing direction from a sociallocation-sharing network to social travel.

Facebook, which often acquires companies for talent, purchased Gowalla in early December 2011. Co-founder Josh Williams explained in a blog post that he and fellow co-founder Scott Raymond met Facebook at its developer conference f8. They found a fit and soon thereafter Gowalla was purchased. The Gowalla team is working on Facebook’s Timeline feature, and its employees have been relocated to Facebook’s California offices. Existing data from Gowalla’s services will not be transferred or owned by Facebook.

Gowalla’s contact and help pages are still available for users.