Instagram announced today that it will begin testing a new version of its full-screen feed, similar to TikTok’s, that aims to improve the way photos are displayed in this new format. The company said it will also use this experiment to try out changes to the navigation bar at the bottom of the Instagram app, where it will soon add shortcuts for creating a post and accessing posts.
As you may recall, Instagram had moved its Compose button somewhat controversially in 2020 when it gave Reels the top spot in the middle of the navigation bar. The Compose button was then tucked away in the top right corner of the app. The choice Instagram may have taken advantage of by directing users to Reels — if only accidentally, in some cases — but it may have discouraged users from making a quick post. The fact that Instagram says it will now test bringing the button back to the navigation bar may indicate that it is seeing a decline in new content creation as more people shift their time and energy to TikTok.
As for the full-screen feed, Instagram had started a similar experiment in May, quickly receiving user complaints and negative feedback. In addition to to hide captions and comments, the updated format showed all content in a 9:16 aspect ratio — including Instagram’s classic square photos and horizontal images. For those photos that didn’t fit well in the feed, Instagram applied a faint, gradient border to make them blend in. Needless to say a lot Instagram users were not fond of of this change – explaining why in their replies on Instagram, Adam Mosseri’s posts about the update are coping.
Another issue with the earlier test was how the feed had strange white space between posts. This made the feed seem like a cross between TikTok’s real full-screen feed and a more traditional card-style feed where posts were separated. Users also said the new format made their feed look cluttered. Instagram has now clarified to Vidak For Congress that the new full-screen feed test being rolled out will no longer show white space at the top and bottom of posts when watching 9:16 videos.
The new feed held some promise for creators, though, as Instagram said it would start recommending their content to users who didn’t follow them — similar to how TikTok inserts content it thinks you might like on its For You page. It’s also arguably helpful for professional creators and advertisers when different apps are standardized around a single format, as it makes it easier for content to be reused across platforms.
The changes were announced on Instagram by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said that “photos are still an important part of Instagram” — a comment intended to reflect the backlash from those who use Instagram primarily for photography and who now believe that Instagram no longer appreciate their value. contributions amid his desperation to clone TikTok and move users to video.
Zuckerberg’s post also said Instagram was working on ways to improve the way photos in this feed were displayed full-screen and that some users would see the test coming to the app soon. He did not elaborate on what Instagram in particular was doing to allay users’ concerns.
The changes to the navigation bar were neither mentioned in his post nor reflected in the images Instagram provided (shown above). But a spokesperson noted them in response to a question about how this test differed from the one that arrived in May.