Instagram now supports text updates with Notes launch, adds more new sharing features • TechCrunch

Instagram now supports text updates with Notes launch, adds more new sharing features • TechCrunch

Instagram now supports text updates with Notes launch, adds more new sharing features • TechCrunch

Amid backlash over the intrusion of algorithmic and recommended content into the Instagram feed, Instagram today introduced a number of new features designed to make it easier for users to keep up with their real-world friends. The company is now rolling out several significant changes, notably including an addition called Notes, a feature Meta had considered making a competitor to Twitter, according to a recent news report. With Notes, users can update their friends using just text and emojis, adding a different format for social updates beyond the images and videos Instagram is best known for. Other new features are being rolled out to Stories and will introduce new ways to share with groups.

Of all the new features announced, Instagram Notes is perhaps the coolest as it adds a way to publicly communicate with others, using text only. While this is obviously reminiscent of a platform like Twitter, the current implementation has a very different user interface. In Instagram, users can leave notes by going to the top of their inbox, then selecting followers they follow (aka mutuals) or others from their existing “Close Friends” list. They’ll then type the note themselves using 60 characters of text-only or emojis. The note will appear at the top of your friends inbox for 24 hours, and replies will arrive as direct messages.

Image credits: Instagram

Instagram said that in testing it found that people appreciated having a way to start conversations in a light-hearted way.

So while the format itself differs from Twitter’s real-time feed, Notes’ use case may have some overlap as the company described the feature as a way for users to share “what they’re up to” or ask for recommendations. Twitter today requires similar input from users. When you go to compose a tweet, for example, the app asks you to share “What’s going on?” And like Notes, it has a limited text input limit. (Although that limit will be now they are growing considerablysaid Twitter owner Elon Musk.)

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported last week that Meta was considering turning Instagram Notes, which it has been testing for many months, into a more well-rounded Twitter rival to capitalize on the chaos on Twitter following its Elon Musk takeover. The report said the company was considering whether Notes should also be its own standalone app or another feed within Instagram. For now, though, it looks like Instagram is rolling out Notes as-is.

Another set of new features caters to Instagram Stories.

One is an update to the “Add Your Own” feature that launched last year, which encourages others to join your trend by sharing their own variation. Now, Instagram is testing an update where you can specifically invite friends to join by tapping “cast it” when you see a trend you think they’d like. This feature is meant to combat one of TikTok’s biggest threats where users replicate trends, whether it’s dances or skits or AI effects set to music, by posting their own take.

Image credits: Instagram

Instagram is also now testing “Candid,” a way for friends to share stories that are only visible to others who also share their own Candid. This feature is an obvious competitor to BeReal, which also locks friends’ content behind a blurry screen until you post too. And like BeReal, Candid sends out daily notification reminders. (TikTok is testing a similar feature with its TikTok Now posts that appear in user feeds.)

This isn’t the first time Instagram has tried to take on BeReal, which is gaining a following among younger Gen Z users. The company earlier this year tested other features including an IG call Candid Challenges, which is similar to what has now become Candid. He also more shamelessly duped BeReal with a dual camera called simply Dual.

Image credits: Instagram

Instagram says users can capture a Candid from the Stories camera, the multi-author story at the top of the feed, or the daily notification reminder.

Two other features focus on improvements to group sharing.

The new “Group Profiles” are a new profile type on Instagram for sharing posts and stories with friends. Content shared in a group profile is shared with group members instead of your followers, and is only posted to the group profile, not your profile. This seems to respond to how many young people are already using Instagram, for example to post content in groups for their school or around some sort of theme. Previously, these accounts would only be managed by select people with account access who could curate content from submissions. Group profiles could drive more participation as they reduce the barrier to posting.

Image credits: Instagram

Collaborative Collections are another new way to connect with a group of friends. In this case, the idea is to allow a group to connect over a shared interest by saving posts to a new “collaborative collection” in a group or via 1-to-1 direct messages (DMs). Users can add to a collection collaborative by saving a post they find to their feed or sharing it with a friend via DM, then saving it from there.

It’s essentially an expansion of the Collections feature over five years old, but one that helps you build that collection with others. This could be useful for gathering travel ideas for a group trip or sharing recipes, among other things.

Image credits: Instagram

The new features were announced by Mark Zuckerberg on Instagram himself.

The company confirmed to TechCrunch that Notes will come to both iOS and Android users, with the rest of the features still in early stage testing. Group profiles are being tested in Canada, Chile and Taiwan, while the other features are being tested with a small percentage of people around the world, we’re told. The only exception is collaborative collections: in this case, if you are part of the test group and start a collection with someone who is not in the test and you invite someone new, they will automatically be added to the test.

“Connecting with others is why people come to Instagram,” Meta’s blog post claimed — a sort of acknowledgment of the backlash the app has seen from users unhappy with the irrelevant and intrusive content in their feeds. of Instagram. This culminated in Instagram effectively reverting some changes after Kylie Jenner and other celebs publicly complained that the app was trying to be too similar to TikTok. The company has decided to suspend testing of full screen posts and reduce the amount of recommended content following user complaints.

The new set of features refocuses on social sharing with friends and appears to be a better move in terms of recognizing what people actually want from Instagram: to connect with friends, not just have fun, like on TikTok.

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