Instagram Stories gets stickers and forced holiday cheer
It doesn’t look like Instagram will stop lifting features from Snapchat anytime soon. Today it’s the addition of stickers in Instagram Stories (a feature which itself was a direct Snapchat copy) on iOS and Android. You’ll be able to add stickers for things like the weather, your current location and the time in photos and videos that appear in your story. Yes, it’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but it’s the sort of fun and irreverent thing that’s made Snapchat more appealing to younger folks. Instagram (and Facebook) just want in on that action.
If you’re not excited by stickers, there are a few other Instagram Stories updates that could be useful. You can now shoot “hands-free” videos just by tapping on the screen, add as much text as you’d like and save stories from the past day as a video. And of course, there’s the expected holiday cheer in the form a candy cane brush and special stickers (with more on the way for New Years).
While it makes sense for Instagram to play catchup with Snapchat, it would also be nice to see it innovating a bit when it comes to new features. Its new livestreaming capability, for example, is a sort of hybrid between Facebook Live and Snapchat. It’s not entirely new, but at least it’s distinctive.
Stop pretending to be in Singapore on Instagram
If you were looking to juice your Instagram metrics, then changing your (digital) location as Singapore was a nifty shortcut. According to the Telegraph, the photo-sharing network’s algorithm was more likely to put you on the Explore page if you were in the country. Unfortunately, the Facebook-owned company has now spotted the problem and squashed it, so you’ll have to stop trying to pretend your bathroom selfies were taken on the island.
A few days back, Mic. spoke to various high-profile names on the service who found that they saw spikes in likes and comments when they lied about their location. According to one anonymous source, they would tag their images as Singapore, Singapore, or Sentosa, Singapore. That data would be left up for the first 12 hours before the creators would amend it back to its authentic locale.
Nobody’s sure as to what caused the bug in the first place, although there’s a theory that the company’s slow-rollout of its algorithm-based feeds caused it. We’ll probably never know for sure, but you can stop lying about where you are for popularity. Instead, you’ll have to go back to exaggerating every other facet of your lives on social media in the hope that people slam their hand on that heart button.
Instagram hits 600 million users as its growth speeds up
Instagram’s growth isn’t slowing down just because it reached the half-billion user mark… if anything, it’s gathering steam. The image-centric social network reports that it now has over 600 million users, the last 100 million of which joined in the past 6 months. To put it another way, Instagram’s growth is accelerating — when it reported the 500 million figure, it had taken 9 months to garner the last 100 million. But what’s creating this momentum?
It’s not clear how many of those people are active. With its last update, Instagram noted that 300 million used its apps daily. Most of the 600 million total are likely very active, then, but there’s a chance that some of its new users only occasionally check things out.
The service doesn’t directly attribute its success to specific factors, but there are a few factors likely at work. For one, Instagram’s obsession with beating Snapchat is likely paying dividends. Why split your time between two services when you can create Stories or send disappearing photos in the same place you share many of your other shots? Twitter’s decision to effectively kill Vine may have helped, too, by drawing in people who needed a new home for their looping videos. Throw in increased media use of Instagram and ever-improving phone camera quality and it’s easy to see why Instagram would have room to grow. The question: are Snapchat-like features and live streaming enough to keep the gravy train going?
Source: Instagram Blog
Instagram Has Gained 100 Million Users After Copying Snapchat
Instagram announced today that it now has more than 600 million users, with the last 100 million of those users joining the photo and video sharing service in the past six months, a period in which it has added several new Snapchat-like features. Instagram has doubled the 300 million users it had in December 2014.
A lot has changed this year, but the Instagram community and the diversity of expression it provides has remained consistent. And you now have more ways to share than ever before with Instagram Stories, live video and disappearing photos and videos in Direct. Additionally, with updated safety tools that give you more control over comments and other parts of your experience, we’re working to make Instagram safer than ever for connection and self-expression.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, has morphed into a Snapchat competitor this year with the addition of “Stories” that disappear after 24 hours, a new “Events” channel, and photos and videos that disappear in direct messages. Facebook has also wittingly added Snapchat-like features to Messenger.
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Instagram Now Lets You Save Posts to View Later
Instagram today launched a small update for its iOS and Android apps, allowing users to save a post they’re interested in to check out later. Underneath each post in the feed users will find a small bookmark icon, and tapping it will send it to a new Saved Post section in the Profile tab.
Saved Posts are private and only visible for you to view, and Instagram says that it’ll help organize and memorialize each user’s favorite videos and images from their feeds and the Explore tab. Any public profile can have their pictures saved for later by other users, but only followers of private accounts can save their posts.
When you stumble upon a funny video you want to remember, a new outfit you like or even inspiration for an upcoming vacation, you can now keep track of favorite posts right from your profile.
Over the past few months Instagram has been focusing on “pressure-free” updates and anti-harassment tools that let users navigate and post on the social network in a more relaxed environment. Coming soon, users will be able to turn the comments section of their posts off completely.
Instagram is available to download from the iOS App Store for free. [Direct Link]
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Instagram now lets you bookmark photos and videos
For some, Instagram is a place to see what your friends and family have been up to. For others, it’s an app for marvelling at beautiful food, furniture and places captured by skilled photographers. Like Pinterest, these photos can serve as inspiration for users’ own dreams and personal projects. With this in mind, Instagram is adding a bookmark icon underneath each post in your feed. Tap it and the relevant photo or video will be added to a private page accessible from your profile. There are no folders or “boards,” so everything is lumped together, but it’s certainly simpler than keeping a text document full of random Instagram links.
Netflix got weird on Twitter and Instagram for its new show
The latest Netflix original series is The OA, a mysterious eight-part show that comes out, in full, on December 16th. Its tagline is “trust the unknown” and Netflix is apparently taking this advice to heart: The streaming company tweeted a handful of cryptic messages this morning, including the questions, “Have you seen death?” and “Have you seen darkness?” before sharing what appeared to be a cell phone video of a woman jumping off a bridge.
It’s all fictional, of course, but the videos themselves are haunting. A handful of folks responded to the tweets with shock and disappointment. “Please delete this,” wrote one viewer. “Some of us have actually dealt with suicide in real life and don’t need to be reminded of this.” Other viewers defended the videos as a valid marketing strategy.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 12, 2016
The strangeness didn’t end on Twitter. Netflix set up an Instagram campaign for The OA as well, featuring multi-image posters and videos that ask more questions than they answer.
All of this culminated with the series’ first trailer: The OA focuses on a young woman who was missing for seven years — she was blind when she disappeared, but when she’s found, she’s able to see. She also remembers everything that happened to her, and a lot of it looks super strange.
The teaser images and videos have a supernatural vibe, featuring something called the Empire of Light and a large machine that encases a person’s head while sensors dangle from their limbs and chest. The OA comes from Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, the filmmakers behind the 2011 psychological thriller Sound of My Voice. According to the trailer’s YouTube description, The OA is a “powerful, mind-bending tale about identity, human connection and the borders between life and death.” Despite its title similarities, it’s safe to say The OA will be nothing like The OC, at least.
Instagram Expands Live Video to All U.S. Users
Instagram today announced that Live Video in Instagram Stories is rolling out to all of its users in the United States starting this morning.
Introduced in November, Live Video is an Instagram Stories option that allows Instagram users to broadcast live video for up to an hour.
Live video content is discovered through notifications that are sent out when a friend starts broadcasting, and through the Explore Tab. Live videos can be created by swiping over to the Stories camera and then choosing “Live” mode.
In the Explore Tab, users can also now see trending and popular live video content from a range of different sources. Like Instagram Stories content, live videos disappear when the video stream ends.
Previously, live videos were limited to a select group of test users, but as of today, live videos are rolling out to all U.S. users. Access will be available over the next few days. Outside of the U.S., Instagram users can view live videos but are not able to create live video content.
Instagram can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
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Instagram Live brings streaming to your Stories today
Just a few weeks after Instagram announced that it’s adding live video broadcasting to the app, the feature is now, well, live. To start broadcasting, just head over to your Stories camera and swipe over to “Live” mode. Viewers will know you’re live with the “live” badge over your Story icon. From what we can tell, the interface is very similar to that of Periscope and Facebook Live. You can leave comments and tap the Heart button to send floating hearts into view.
The big difference seems to be that unlike Facebook Live and Periscope, the live videos captured by Instagram are truly ephemeral — you can’t access archived videos for later viewing. So if you don’t want to miss those Instagram Live videos, you generally have to be following those accounts and be tuning in at the right time. That said though, Instagram is also populating its Explore page with “Top Live” videos that it hopes will highlight the most popular live stories at any given time.
In a way, Instagram Live seems to be something of a hybrid between Facebook Live and Snapchat. It’s mobile-only unlike Facebook Live, and appears to be geared mostly toward personal video sharing, whereas Facebook Live has so far been mostly used by media companies and publishers. It’s not entirely clear yet if there’s a market for this kind of live video sharing, but Instagram’s sheer popularity could prove to be a great testing ground for it.
Live video on Instagram will roll out starting today, and should be available to all US users in the coming days.
Instagram finally lets users disable comments on posts
In recent months, Instagram has finally stated rolling out tools that let users combat abuse. First, Instagram added the ability to block specific words from your comments, and today it is adding a host of other tools to keep trolls out of your account. The company says all the new features will be available in the coming weeks. First up is a tool that’ll let you remove comments entirely from your posts. When creating a new Instagram post, you’ll find an “advanced settings” menu where you can turn off comments for that image. You can also reverse course and turn commenting back on if you so choose. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you can shut off comments globally in your account; hopefully Instagram will add that option next.
Instagram isn’t just shutting down comments, though — it’s also adding the ability to “heart” a specific comment in the hopes that it’ll “show support” for users and “encourage positively throughout the community.” Hard to say if this will make a difference, but it’s good to see Instagram proactively try and make comments a happier place.
The next new privacy feature is focused on private accounts. If you have your account set to private, you’ll have to approve new followers, like always. But now you can actively remove individual followers if you change your mind about who you let see your photos. Previously, you had to take the more aggressive move of blocking someone to get them off your followers list. Instagram says that people you remove from your private followers list won’t be notified when you flip that switch.
Lastly, there’s a new option to anonymously report what Instagram calls “self-injury” posts. If you see a post from someone you’re following that makes you worry for their well-being and think they might harm themselves, this feature lets you flag the photo for review. Instagram says it has a team working 24/7 that will then reach out to the user and connect them with resources that can offer help. It’s an interesting feature, but it also feels like something that trolls could potentially use to harass others. We’re reaching out to Instagram to see how the company plans to keep that from happening and will update this post with more details if we hear anything.
Those concerns aside, these features are most welcome — if the last year has showed us anything, it’s that online communities need to provide their users with tools to battle abuse. Without those sort of tools, users are likely to flee the platform or use it far less — so including these tools is smart for business, not just for the platform’s users. While we wish Instagram had been faster to roll out these new features, they’re still most welcome.