For a long time after its inception, Instagram looked pretty much the same. All the pictures were square, none of them moved, there were no in-stream ads, and everything appeared in the order in which it was posted. All of that has changed recently, however, and now Instagram appears to be taking clear aim at the Snapchat crowd with a familiar new feature called Stories.
The basic idea is that you can create an ephemeral collection of images and videos that you can then edit and add things like drawings, graphics, and text. The images are then played back in a slideshow presentation that can only be viewed for 24 hours after it’s posted. Yeah, so, pretty much exactly what Snapchat does with its Stories feature.
The Stories will be indicated by a red ring around a person’s profile picture, so they won’t really appear in the stream. Once they’re gone, they can no longer be viewed, but it seems a bit unclear as to whether or not Instagram (and therefore its parent company, Facebook), will actually hold onto the photos or any other information provided as part of the Story.
So far, reactions have been pretty all over the place. Some people are happy they will no longer need to look at Snapchat for their fix of fleeting content, while others are decrying the loss of simplicity and purity the app once had when it was just a long stream of photos. Personally, I’m a little perplexed by the whole thing, since I don’t necessarily see the value of working on and posting something that only lasts for 24 hours. Maybe that could be optional or something. I can’t help but picturing myself in the future saying something like, “Oh, let me tell you about all the photos and videos I took on my day trip. I can’t show them to you because they’re gone forever for some reason. They got a bunch of likes when they existed, though.”
The new Stories feature will be rolling out to users in the next couple of weeks, so it will be interesting to see how it affects the overall Snapchat user base. Snapchat still has a few things going for it that Instagram can’t match, like the fancy facial recognition filters and the ability to share unfettered nudity, which I hear is quite popular on the internet.
Here’s the announcement at the official Instagram Blog.