Instagram is an undeniable phenomenon, and it has been from the very start. It had 10,000 downloads in the first few hours of its launch on October 6, 2010. That seems like a lifetime ago—for more reasons than just the fact that Instagram, today, boasts over a billion users.
Since its earliest days, the platform has connected people from all over the world, inspired millions to visually express themselves, learn more about friends and strangers alike, and rally around causes they care about. It’s made luxury brands accessible, and revolutionised everyday experiences, from travel to visiting museums to dining. How often have you heard a friend exclaim, “Phone eats first!”
Instagram has evolved masterfully over the years, starting as an iPhone-only app that could only take photos (users’ photo galleries were, initially, inaccessible) within a square frame. An enhancing filter could be added, and lighting and colours could be rudimentarily adjusted. Your followers could comment or like. That was it. Where the app is today, comparatively, speaks for itself.
Along the way, it’s had its fair share of iconic moments. Its platform hosted the world’s first space selfie in 2014. There was the Beyoncé pregnancy reveal. The world-record-breaking egg. And so, so many memes. The app also hasn’t grown up without its fair share of controversy, including concerns of burgeoning social media addiction and the effects of Instagram-perfect lives and bodies.
“I’m proud of where we are today, but I’m thinking a lot about where we’re going,” said Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri. “Culture is the collection of stories we tell, and we believe everyone has something worth saying.” As a result, Instagram is reaffirming its commitment to continually adapt to a changing world, taking its cues from its vibrant and vocal users.
In the future, Mosseri announced, Instagram will be making major changes, introducing tabs for Reels (its 15-second video feature) and shopping, and making improvements to messaging. But, in keeping pace with what’s new, noteworthy, and next, the app also has some novel features to introduce today. Think of it as a birthday present to the global Instagram community.
Stories were first introduced as an Instagram feature in August 2016, and quickly became an inextricable part of the app’s brand and user interface. The popularity of the casual, low-pressure videos that disappeared after 24 hours skyrocketed. Last year, Instagram hit a new record of 500 million daily active Stories across the world. As of today, users will be able to dive back into all their favourite personal moments and memories over the last three years. A private map and calendar of every Instagram Story shared will become available as of today, and users will be able to share, download, and save these Stories to their Highlights.
Given the boom in e-commerce over the last decade, it’s no surprise that Mosseri announced a new feature yesterday that will make it easier than ever for creators to make a living from using the app. IGTV, Instagram’s in-app video platform, has been reworked to allow viewers to purchase products shown on-camera without leaving the app. It will also allow streamlined access to a seller’s website. The feature makes it brings users the ability to effortlessly find products that they will use for years, and in so doing support the creators they love. In the future, users will be able to discover shoppable IGTV videos on their dedicated Instagram Shop page, as well.
Two new features will be added to reduce negative interactions, including bullying and harassment, in comment threads. Since 2019, Instagram has had both restrict-interaction options and an AI that alerts people that their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted. This year, they’re expanding the latter feature to include an additional warning, when people repeatedly attempt to post comments that could offend or hurt. Instagram is also adding the ability to hide potentially offensive comments, which will automatically mask comments similar to others that have been reported, though users will still be able to “View Hidden Comments” with a tap.
For lovers of Easter Eggs, Instagram is rolling out a top-secret feature hidden in the app. When accessed, it will allow people to transform the app icon in a variety of ways, including back into the iconic original logo from 2010. To dig up the surprise, users should head to their app’s Settings.