Today, Instagram introduced a new feature called “Save for Later” A small button that lives on every image in your feed. Click it, and the story is stored into your private, personal stash. It’s a small change, sure, but it’s a small change that effectively turns Instagram into Pinterest–allowing you to curate a visual list of things that are notable to you. And it’s not the only minor yet important UX change that Instagram has made in recent weeks.
Granted, Save for Later is far more limited than Pinterest. You only have one saved feed with no tag filtering, so there’s no way to sort out all the hamburgers you liked from the shoes. And obviously, Instagram images don’t directly link to URLs, like those of Pinterest do. But even still, this move solidifies a tacit strategy at Instagram. Once focused on its own view of the internet–square photos with flattering, nostalgic filters–Instagram is now borrowing the best UI bits from competitors to broaden its capabilities and appeal.
Earlier this year, Instagram pulled a similar move with its new Stories, a feature that borrowed from Snapchat to introduce self-destructing, ephemeral video and images into the Instagram feed. But not actually into the feed, properly. Stories sit over the feed, essentially adding a second product onto Instagram, without hurting its core. In the case of Stories, Instagram was able to absorb not only Snapchat’s UI, but a bit of its philosophy. Instagram is a place for perfect, fomo-inducing photography, and Stories break that mold for more casual, lower-risk sharing. It’s UI double dipping.
Likewise, Save for Later turns Instagram into a curation tool, rather than just a tool for gawking. And it’s easy to imagine how Instagram could monetize Save for Later as soon as their early e-commerce tests mature into a real business. Save all of your favorite clothing or vacation destinations, then when you’re ready, click to buy.
What’s most remarkable, though, is that despite adding features that range from inspired-by to direct copies of its competitors, Instagram still feels like Instagram. Despite now having some of the best bits of Snapchat and Pinterest in its utility arsenal, despite having lifted more ephemeral experiences and personalized lists at the same time, the pure, simplistic photo feed that is Instagram has stayed intact. And that’s a feat all its own.