Instagram revealed today that it would begin testing a new full-screen feed, similar to TikTok’s, to improve the way photographs display in this new format. This experiment will also be used to test improvements to the navigation bar at the bottom of the Instagram app, which will soon include shortcuts for making posts and accessing messages, according to the firm.
As you may recall, Instagram controversially repositioned its Compose button in the centre of the navigation bar in 2020, giving Reels the top slot. The Compose button was subsequently moved to the app’s top-right corner. The decision may have benefitted Instagram by directing viewers to Reels — albeit inadvertently in some circumstances — but it may have dissuaded users from making a short post. Instagram’s announcement that it would try adding the button back to the navigation bar might indicate a drop in new content production as more users divert their time and attention to TikTok.
In the case of the full-screen feed, Instagram tried something similar in May, but it was met with user backlash and negative criticism. In addition to suppressing captions and comments, the new style presented all material in a 9:16 aspect ratio, including Instagram’s traditional square and horizontal photographs. Instagram put a fuzzy, gradient border to photographs that did not fit the stream correctly, making them blend in. Needless to say, many Instagram users were not pleased with the move, and they expressed why in comments on Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri’s postings about it.
Another issue with the previous test was the weird white gap between posts in the feed. This gave the impression that the feed was a hybrid of TikTok’s actual full-screen feed and a more typical, card-style feed with posts split. Users also complained that the new structure made their feed appear crowded. When viewing 9:16 videos, Instagram has confirmed to TechCrunch that the new full-screen feed test will no longer show white space at the top and bottom of posts.
The news feed, however, has some hope for artists, as Instagram said that it will begin promoting their material to individuals who do not follow them — much to how TikTok’s For You page tosses in stuff it believes you will like. When multiple applications agree on one format, it makes it easier for material to be reused across platforms, which is presumably beneficial to professional artists and marketers.
The changes were announced on Instagram by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who stated that “photos are still an important part of Instagram” — a remark meant to appease those who use Instagram primarily for photography and now believe that Instagram no longer values their contributions in its desperate attempt to clone TikTok and shift users to video.
In his article, Zuckerberg also mentioned that Instagram was working on methods to enhance the way photographs appeared in this full-screen feed and that the test will be coming to the app shortly for select users. He did not go into detail about what Instagram is doing to resolve consumers’ concerns.
His post did not mention the modifications to the navigation bar, and the photographs Instagram provided did not reflect them either (shown above). However, in answer to a question regarding how this test varied from the one that arrived in May, a spokeswoman mentioned them.