While Combin team was focused on making Instagram audience search and growth easier and safer, Instagram wasn’t counting thumbs either. Over the last couple of months, it’s been consistently testing and implementing various functionality and UI changes. I’ve piled them up, divided into categories, so you can easily catch up on the important Instagram news of March and the first half of April, 2019.
Following list filter
The list of users you follow on Instagram is reported to be upgraded with new sorting features: by following date (latest and earliest) and by new posts. It’s currently unclear whether the latter implies sorting by the amount of new posts or by the most recently published new content.
Old usernames reservation
At last, changed usernames are no longer lost! Instagram is testing the feature that locks old Instagram usernames for 14 days, so their owners have time to revert back. Up until it’s released, usernames are free to be taken by other users immediately after the owners change them to other names.
Jane Manchun Wong, who spotted this feature, pointed to the issue of Internet trolls claiming Instagram usernames of public personalities and then sending them hate messages. She explained the username ownership change can solve the problem with the ‘claimers’ she experiences herself to this day, too.
Windows phone app termination
Since the beginning of April, Instagram for Windows phone started sending notifications about the application’s discontinuation on April, 30.
Windows phone users have some options to choose from, to continue using Instagram. The application’s web version (via mobile browser) is officially recommended to be used as an alternative; pin it to the Start screen of the phone for easy access. Such Instagram clients as Winsta and 6tag were suggested as third party options by Reddit users who initially spotted the change.
Taking another step towards becoming a digital mall, Instagram introduced implementation of a checkout page. It not helps buying products without leaving the Instagram app, but making quick purchases in the future due to payment information storage. Moreover, purchases made through Instagram checkout can be tracked — the application will send notifications about shipment and delivery status.
Instagram charges retailers an extra fee for using the feature. It’s currently in closed beta, available for a limited number of US based businesses, including Adidas, Burberry, Balmain, Dior, H&M, Uniqlo and MAC cosmetics.
In addition to the checkout page, Instagram is working on a shopping bag section. Within the account settings, users will be able to see their shopping history and look through items added to the bag.
Branded posts ad format
Instagram is going to let brands promote influencers’ posts. Looking for ways to create formal partnerships between creators and advertisers, Instagram created Branded content ads. Now brands will be able to sponsor posts created by influencers, and then promote them the same way the can promote their own content via Instagram application.
The new format is an extension of Instagram’s branded content tagging system. Brands will be able to manage the promotion campaign of the posts with their Paid Partnership tags.
Explore page buttons
Browsing through the interesting products and exploring shops on Instagram is likely to become as easy as looking through feed and regular Saved posts. Instagram is testing new buttons in Shopping Explore page, Shops and Saved. Tapping the Shops button is supposed to reveal a list of recommended Instagram stores. Tapping the Saved button opens favorite (shoppable) posts collection.
Stories UI is currently overloaded with all sorts of different features, effects, tabs and buttons. In an attempt to make it more compact and less confusing, Instagram is working on major layout changes. The number of Stories modes is reduced to 3: Live, Normal and Create.
Live mode will remain unchanged and provide the same live streaming functionality. Normal mode will include Capture modes (Boomerang, Superzoom, Hands Free) and AR effects. Create mode will provide Sticker and Text functions.
New Stories UI seems to be heavily inspired by a DSLR mechanical circular mode switcher. Jane Wong, who found this and many other new Instagram features in testing, noted that the new interface also looks similar to Obscura and Snapchat UI. So much, that Obscura’s official Twitter account even passed a witty comment regarding the situation.
AR effects preview
Instagram considers adding an AR filters preview feature to Stories. It comes with 3 buttons: Try It, Save and Share. Try It opens Stories camera with the chosen AR effect applied. Save adds the effect to the Stories camera effects tray.
Instagram is testing Follow button within Stories viewers list. Users are going to be able to follow and unfollow accounts that watch their Stories without leaving the list.
Music search through lyrics
Instagram music sticker is in testing to be upgraded with a new search feature. After adding the sticker and finding a song, users will be able to look through the lyrics and select a specific part to be featured in Story.
Instagram Direct is testing admin rights in chat groups. It will help managing chat members by removing, adding and making them admins as well.
Media picking options
An improved media picker is reported to be in testing for Instagram Direct. Personal Instagram account owners will be able to add not only images from phone’s storage to their DMs, but also liked and saved Instagram posts. Business accounts will get the option to select their own posts for sharing via Direct.
Instagram Business for individuals
Creator is a new type of Business account for high-profile Instagram influencers, public figures and celebrity artists. This addition separates Instagram Business accounts on individuals and brands, and gives each group a different set of tools, suitable for their unique needs and goals. Creator accounts will be able to use special account management perks, including Flexible Profile Controls, Simplified Messaging and More Growth Tools.
Instagram is testing chat tabs for Creator accounts, which are likely to be a part of the Simplified Messaging functionality. All conversations in the inbox are going to be divided into 2 categories, Primary and General. It can help Creators manage requests and messages, making it way more simple to differentiate between personal/business messages and fan mail.
Requested messages filter
Instagram is working on a Top Requests filter for Creators Direct. Creators will be able to choose between seeing all received conversation requests and the messages deemed to be relevant.
Privacy and security
Instagram privacy and security settings are nowhere near as confusing as Facebook’s, but they definitely needed a more defined structure. Apparently, this is just what’s going to happen: “Comment Controls” turn into just “Comments”, new sections, like Connections and Data and History are added, and separator bars divide all settings categories. Quite a big move to easier navigation!
Login via trusted devices
Instagram is working on a new login option that reduces the burden of having to enter two factor authentication code, while still maintaining security. The new option lets users connect trusted devices and login from them safe and fast, skipping 2FA rituals.
In addition to demoting inappropriate content that doesn’t go against Community Guidelines, Instagram is now working on policing comments that may offend users. If a comment could have been previously reported, it’s highly likely to be considered offensive. Such comments are going to be delayed, with a chance to appeal and to remove comments from review.