When Instagram debuted its "Stories" feature last August, much of the gut reaction focused on the fact that it was remarkably similar to Snapchat's identically named feature. But a sizable chunk of Instagram users have embraced the ability to piece together images and videos and dress them up with text and sketches: Just two months after it premiered, Instagram Stories had 100 million daily users, out of 300 million+ total.
Now Instagram is building out Stories with the meatiest update it's made to the feature so far. It includes three new capabilities.
Boomerang is a built-in version of an app that Instagram released in 2015. It lets you create brief, GIF-esque videos that loop forwards and then backwards, endlessly. The version inside Stories lets you control the length of the the videos and flip back and forth between your phone's front and back cameras on the fly.
Mentions lets you reference another user in text by typing an @name—something people were already doing before Stories officially supported it. Now when you begin to type a name, the app starts showing matching friends, and if you add a name to a story, people can tap on it to visit the profile of the user in question. That person also gets an Instagram direct message alerting them of the mention, which can segue into more chatter. "The mentions were designed with conversation in mind," says product manager Nate Sharp. "This is more than an average notification, and we want people to talk about Stories."
"See More" links allows users with verified accounts to overlay a story with a link to a web page—such as an article or the site of a favorite company—that others can see by tapping or swiping. After a period of testing, the company hopes to roll this feature out to all users.
The new tools are available starting today in Instagram's versions for iOS, Android, and Windows 10.