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Instagram Expands Shopping in Stories, Adds Shopping to Explore

Instagram today announced two major updates to the shopping feature in the Instagram app that's designed to allow users to make purchases directly from Instagram. Shopping within Stories, a feature that began rolling out in June, is expanding to businesses across 46 countries. When watching Stories from brands, items that are featured can be tapped so you can learn more about them. Instagram is also adding a new Shopping channel in the Explore section of the Instagram app that's personalized to each individual user. The Shopping channel is located alongside other topic channels, and it will feature brands you follow and brands you might like. The Shopping channel in Explore is rolling out to Instagram users starting today and will expand globally "over the coming weeks." Instagram can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Instagram Tests Video Tagging Feature Among Select Users

Instagram is testing a new feature that allows users to tag friends in videos (via TechCrunch). The option uses the same icon that users normally tap at the bottom left of tagged photos, but instead of overlaying the content with tagged names, the button links to a separate page listing all the people tagged in the video. The new page, titled "People in this Video", also lists users that the original poster wants to notify of the shared content. As it stands, the videos don't copy over to the tagged users' profiles like tagged photos do, but that could change if Instagram opts to roll out the feature globally in future. Video tagging in Instagram (via TechCrunch) Video tagging only appears in the mobile app right now, so it won't show up for anyone using the web version of the social media platform. Instagram also confirmed that the feature is currently only available to a "small percentage" of users who specifically opted in to test video tagging. Photo tagging has been possible on Instagram since 2013, with the feature having since been extended to support additional usage scenarios, such as product tagging and tagging friends in Stories. Video sharing was introduced later the same year, but the ability to tag people in them has been missing thus far. TechCrunch notes that the introduction of video tagging could drive additional engagement on the platform and usher in a spate of "shoppable videos" that could enable users with a large following to share videos promoting their favorite products, places, and brands more

Instagram Update Adds Emoji Shortcuts Bar for Faster Comments

Instagram has added an emoji shortcut bar to its mobile app that places the user's most-used emojis above the keyboard whenever they start to comment on a post (via The Verge). The new emoji bar doesn't appear on other occasions in the app that call for the use of the onscreen keyboard, such as when a user creates a post or comments on a Story. Instagram has obviously identified post comments as the place where emoji are most frequently used on the platform, and naturally wants to make the interaction as easy as possible. The feature has been in limited testing since May, but only recently became available to everyone on the image-led social network with the latest mobile app update. That feeling when your favorite emojis are right in front of you 🙌😍 pic.twitter.com/QPF8eGc5yD— Instagram (@instagram) September 6, 2018 The use of emoji in digital communications has skyrocketed ever since Apple introduced the emoji keyboard to iOS back in October 2011. In the month following the introduction, Instagram revealed that 10 percent of text on the social network included the use of emoji. By March 2015, nearly half of all text on the platform contained the ubiquitous expressive characters, leading Instagram to employ machine learning to recognize long-term emoji trends. This latest update might be regarded as an inevitable outcome of its extensive

The New York Public Library Begins Posting Entire Novels to Instagram Stories

The New York Public Library today launched a new initiative it's calling "Insta Novels," in which it will post classic novels and short stories as Instagram Stories. You won't need a NYPL card or have to live nearby to gain access to Insta Novels as the feature will be available to anyone who has an Instagram account (via The Wall Street Journal). To start off, the library is offering Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," and plans to next highlight Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis." The platform was built to "promote reading in general," as well as expand the brand recognition of the NYPL and its ability to "adapt to the digital era." “We want people to understand that libraries aren’t just those brick-and-mortar places full of dusty books,” said Christopher Platt, the NYPL’s chief branch library officer. Specifically, these novels and stories will be housed on the NYPL's Instagram page as Story Highlights. The library is dividing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland up in multiple parts, and Part 1 is available to read today. Once you open up the "Alice Part 1" story, the library has created an area on the page to rest your thumb on the screen. The way Instagram Stories work is that when you place a finger on the story, it pauses as long as you continue to interact with it. So, in order to ensure you can read a full page without the story progressing at a fast speed, you can rest your thumb on the screen, and then lift it to turn the page. Alice Part 1 extends to page 83 and the sixth chapter of

Facebook and Instagram Reveal Tools for Managing Your Time, Setting Reminders, and Limiting Notifications

Earlier in the summer, Facebook and Instagram each promised that users would soon be able to access a suite of digital health tools to help them manage their time on the social networks and promote healthier habits. Today, the companies revealed these tools in a press release and confirmed they will be rolling out to all mobile app users "soon." The tools will be found within the settings page on both iOS apps -- on Instagram it'll be called "Your Activity" and on Facebook it'll be called "Your Time on Facebook." At the top of the page, the activity dashboard will highlight your daily average time for each app on the device you have it installed on, and below that will be a bar graph detailing exactly how long you spent per day in each app over the last week. We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community. We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring. Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms and also foster conversations between parents and teens about the online habits that are right for them. Below that is "Manage Your Time" section with a few features that focus on customizing push notifications. One is a "set daily reminder" option, which is an alert that notifies you when you've reached the amount of time you want to spend on Facebook or Instagram for that day. The other is for "notification settings," where you can

Instagram Gains Status Dots to Let You Know When Friends Are Online

Instagram today announced the launch of a new feature that's designed to let you know when your friends are active on the social network. When a friend is online, their profile picture will be accented with a green dot in various places within the app. You'll see the green dot in the Direct inbox and in your friends list when you share a post from the feed. Dots will be displayed for friends who follow you or people you have previously spoken to in Direct. If desired, you can hide your own status and turn off the ability to see when your friends are active in the settings section of the Instagram app. Instagram says this new update is meant to make it easier to connect with friends over direct messages for more realtime conversations. The dots are rolling out to Instagram users today. Instagram can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Instagram to Introduce Non-SMS Two-Factor Authentication to Prevent SIM Hacking

Instagram is planning to introduce a new two-factor authentication method that will not require a user's phone number and will instead work with authentication apps like Google Authenticator, reports TechCrunch. Authentication apps are a safer two-factor option than the phone number method, which can be bypassed through SIM hacking, as outlined earlier today by VICE's Motherboard. Image via TechCrunch SIM hacking involves hijacking a person's phone number by manipulating cellular service support staff and claiming a SIM card has been lost. Creating a new SIM associated with the phone number allows it to be stolen, and if that phone number is associated with a social networking account, as it would be with Instagram's current two-factor authentication method, the results can be devastating. In Motherboard's article, for example, SIM hacking is used to steal Instagram accounts, which can be lucrative when highly desired usernames are poached. Instagram is especially vulnerable to this kind of attack because right now, when you turn on Instagram's two-factor authentication, account codes and password reset requests are sent via your phone number. Instagram has already been testing the new two-factor authentication method, with screenshots and details baked into the code for the Instagram Android app. This code was discovered by a TechCrunch tipster, who also shared screenshots. An Instagram spokesperson confirmed the screenshots are legitimate and said Instagram is "continuing to improve the security of Instagram accounts, including strengthening

Instagram Launches 'You're All Caught Up' Feature Letting You Know When You've Seen All New Posts

Instagram today launched a new "You're All Caught Up" feature, which is designed to let users know when they've viewed all new posts from the last 48 hours. Instagram has not used a chronological feed for several years now and it can be difficult to tell when all content has been viewed, something the new feature, which has been in testing since mid-May, should fix. Today, you'll start noticing a "You're All Caught Up" message when you've seen every post from the last two days. We've heard that it can be difficult to keep track of your seen posts. With this message, you'll have a better understanding of your Feed and know you haven't missed recent photos or videos.Below the "All Caught Up" message, Instagram will display posts that have already been viewed as well as posts that are older than two days old. The feature is rolling out on both iOS and Android starting today. In related news, TechCrunch says Instagram and Facebook are testing new Do Not Disturb features that will let people turn off notifications from the social networks for 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, eight hours, one day, or until they're turned back on manually. Instagram and Facebook declined to comment on the possible new feature, and it's not clear when it might roll out. Instagram can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Instagram Stories Gain Support for Adding Soundtracks

Instagram today updated its Stories feature with the ability to add a soundtrack for background music, with Instagram offering thousands of popular songs to choose from. You can add music to Stories by tapping to add a sticker and then choosing the new "Music" sticker that's available in the list alongside other stickers like Location, Mention, Hashtag, and more. Tapping on the Music sticker opens up a library that includes thousands of songs, with search tools for finding a specific mood or genre, along with a list of what's popular. You can press the play button to hear a preview of a song. Once a song is selected, you can then fast forward and rewind to choose the exact part of the song that fits your story. Songs can also be chosen before taking a video by swiping to the new "Music" option located under the record button. From here, you can choose a song, select a portion of the song, and then record a video as the song plays. Instagram Stories with songs attached will play the song and a sticker will be added with the song title and the artist name. Along with music options in Instagram Stories, Instagram today also announced that Stories has 400 million daily active users. Instagram says the music sticker is available in Instagram 51, which is the latest version of the Instagram app in the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

Instagram Gains Group Video Chat, Redesigned Explore Tab and New Camera Effects

Instagram today implemented several new features that were first previewed and announced at Facebook's F8 developer conference in May, including a redesigned Explore tab, new camera effects, and a group video chatting feature. Instagram's new video chat option, which is a feature that's designed to rival offerings like Skype and FaceTime, can be accessed via Instagram Direct, and it allows for video calls with up to four people at the same time. Instagram users can chat across iOS and Android without the need for a phone number. As explained by Instagram, starting a new video chat can be done from the Direct inbox. Open a message thread, tap the camera icon, and the video chat will ring on a friend's phone. While video chatting, the video can be minimized to one corner so you can continue to browse Instagram. You can video chat with anyone you have an active Direct thread with, and blocking a person will prevent them from video chatting you. With group chats, a little icon will let you know when friends are talking and you can join in.Video chat is perfect for groups. You can video chat with up to four people at a time, and the video will expand as more friends join. If there's an active video chat in a group thread, the camera icon will turn blue. Simply tap the camera to join in the fun. You can video chat with your friends for as long as you'd like. When you're ready to leave the video chat, tap the red phone icon at the bottom.Instagram's Explore tab has been revamped with new topic channels that are designed to make it easier to find content that you want

Instagram Launches New 'IGTV' Video Hub for Longer-Form Content [Updated]

Instagram today announced the launch of IGTV, a new video streaming service that's designed to compete with YouTube. The news was shared during a live broadcast from Instagram's headquarters in San Francisco. With the launch of IGTV, which is mobile first and built with smartphones in mind, content creators on Instagram can now upload videos that are as long as one hour to Instagram, up from a single minute. IGTV focuses on full-screen vertical video, with the ability to interact with other users while watching videos. Anyone can upload IGTV content to Instagram starting today. Longer-form video content on the social network can be discovered through the IGTV section of the Explore Tab, with Instagram highlighting popular videos from well-known Instagram users. Instagram is also releasing a standalone IGTV app that's going to launch in the next few weeks. In the upcoming IGTV app, content will begin playing as soon as it's opened, which Instagram says is meant to be "just like turning on the TV." You'll be able to watch content from people you already follow on Instagram, with the new app also suggesting content based on your interests. IGTV has channels that are based around creators. When you follow a creator, their content will be displayed for you to watch. Instagram today also announced that it now boasts 1 billion monthly active users, giving it a huge user base for the new IGTV video service. Update: The new IGTV app is now available for download from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

Instagram Expands Shopping to Stories

Instagram today announced that it is expanding its shopping feature beyond the news feed to Instagram Stories. When viewing Instagram Stories from brands, stickers with a shopping bag icon can be tapped and will provide more details about the product along with purchase options. Instagram has previously allowed users to view product information and make purchases through brand posts in the main news feed. Instagram says that the new Stories shopping feature is available to a select number of brands that include Adidas, Aritzia, and Louis Vuitton, with support set to expand to additional brands in the near

Instagram Reportedly Planning Hub for Longer Videos to Compete With Snapchat Discover

Instagram is gearing up to launch a hub for "longer-form video," according to multiple sources speaking with TechCrunch, in an effort to continue its competition with Snapchat and the "Discover" tab, as well as YouTube. The dedicated space will feature scripted shows, music videos, and more, which will all be vertically shot and viewable in full-screen 4K on compatible smartphones. The announcement could come as soon as June 20, and Instagram is meeting with social media stars and other video partners ahead of the reveal. Videos are expected to be 5-15 minutes in length with a spotlight section highlighting popular videos, and a "continue watching" area for quickly jumping back into videos that users start but don't finish in one session. Outside of the hub, these longer clips will be able to get featured on the creator's profiles near Stories Highlights at the top. It appears that there will be heavy oversight by Instagram, since creators won't be able to fully shoot and post these longer videos on their own, "as the section will only allow pre-made video uploads." As of now, no name for the hub or where it will be located in the app have yet to be given. The sources did state that Instagram is planning to let creators eventually earn money off the videos through advertisements. Instagram is preparing to unveil a home for longer-form video — a YouTube competitor and its take on Snapchat Discover. According to multiple sources, Instagram will offer a dedicated space featuring scripted shows, music videos and more in vertically oriented, full-screen,

Instagram Announces Mute Feature So You Can Hide Posts Without Unfollowing People

Instagram today announced the ability for you to mute accounts in your feed, so that you can hide posts from people or brands you may not want to see anymore without needing to unfollow them completely. Instagram says that the change is another update to make your feed "even more personalized to what matters to you." Account muting will be in the ellipsis menu at the top right of each post, and you can choose to "Mute Posts" or "Mute Posts and Story," to also prevent that account's stories from appearing at the top of the Instagram app. You can also mute accounts by pressing and holding on a story in the story tray, or from a user's profile. After you mute someone you can still navigate to their profile page to look at their posts, and if you're tagged by them the app will still send you a push notification. Instagram says that people will not be made aware that you muted them, and you can unmute people whenever you like. Facebook has a similar muting feature, allowing users to unfollow other people without directly unfriending them. Instagram is routinely working on new additions for its photo-sharing social network, with new digital health features like "Time Spent" usage and "You're All Caught Up" notifications said to be coming soon. In March, the company updated its feed algorithm to focus on newer posts, although many users frequently request an option to return to the simple, reverse chronological feed. Instagram says that the mute feature will be rolling out to its users "over the coming

Instagram Working on 'You're All Caught Up' Feature to Let You Know When All New Posts Have Been Viewed

Instagram has not used a chronological feed for years now, making it difficult to determine when you've seen all of the new content on the social network. Instagram may be planning to fix this issue with a new "You're All Caught Up" feature that's designed to notify users when all unseen posts from the last 48 hours have been viewed. The feature was first noticed by TechCrunch, and an Instagram spokesperson confirmed that it is being tested and will show up for a limited number of users. Instagram did not, however, share details on how it works and whether it includes every single post from the people you follow or just the best ones that its algorithm has decided to display. The new "You're All Caught Up" text is part of Instagram's pledge to offer a Usage Insights feature that will let users know just how much time they're spending in the Instagram app. "We're building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram - any time should be positive and intentional. Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it's the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously," Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom wrote on Twitter last

Instagram Now Letting Users Share Feed Posts to Stories

Instagram today added a feature that's designed to let users share posts from their accounts and public accounts that they follow directly to their story feed as a sticker. Today, we're introducing a new way to easily share feed posts to your story. When you come across something in feed that inspires you -- like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand -- you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.Instagram users can share a feed post to a story by tapping on the paper airplane button below a post, which is the same gesture used to send it through a Direct message. At the top of this interface, there's a new option to create a story. Tapping that option will transform the feed post into a sticker with a customized background that can be shared to a story. Like other stickers, the post sticker can be rotated, scaled, moved, and otherwise customized. Every post shared to stories will display the original poster's username to make it clear who an image belongs to. Users can also tap on a post in someone's story to see the original post and more content from the person who shared it. Instagram is only allowing content from accounts that are public, not private, to be shared to stories. Instagram users who do not want their posts shared to stories by other people can opt out in the settings section of the

Instagram to Offer 'Time Spent' Usage Insights to Promote Healthy Online Habits

Instagram is developing a Usage Insights feature for its social media platform that will let users know how much time they're spending in the app. TechCrunch on Tuesday highlighted code buried in the Android version of Instagram that reveals the new time management controls headed for the app, and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has since confirmed the features are indeed in development for the platform as a whole."It's true," said Systrom, adding in a series of tweets: "We're building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional. Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it's the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously."The upcoming feature reflects a recent trend by big tech companies to acknowledge the unhealthy habits that their products can promote, especially among younger users. Facebook-owned Instagram joins Google and Apple in a pool of companies that have recently confirmed they are developing methods to promote more meaningful engagement online and cut down on anti-social browsing. Last week, Google announced several tools for users of its latest Android operating system that would help them better manage their screen time. These include a new do not disturb mode called "shush" that makes it easier for users to ignore notifications, and a "wind down" mode that gradually changes screen color to grayscale and lowers brightness as bedtime approaches. Earlier this

Fandango Now Lets You Buy Movie Tickets Through Its Instagram Page

Fandango today added a "Buy Tickets" button on the company's Instagram profile, letting visitors to the page purchase tickets to films currently in theaters as well as pre-order tickets for unreleased movies (via The Hollywood Reporter). The move is said to be part of an overall push by Instagram into a "shoppable tags" commerce feature, and comes after the social network debuted a native payments option for select users last week. The Buy Tickets button sits to the right of Fandango's existing Shop button on its Instagram profile, and when you tap it a mobile.fandango.com page loads with movies both now playing and coming soon. You can choose a film, find a showtime, and sign into your Fandango account (or check out as a guest) to complete the purchase. "As millions of movie fans have gravitated to social media platforms to discover, share and engage with their favorite movie content, Fandango has been essential to that experience, offering ticketing capabilities and access to the most comprehensive network of U.S. theaters," said Fandango president Paul Yanover. "We're very excited to integrate ticketing into our Fandango Instagram, and look forward to working with our studio partners to help transform consumer passion into advance ticket purchases." Instagram has featured ads that users can tap and purchase items with for over two years, but it's important to note that Fandango's initiative is housed entirely on the company's profile page and won't be a sponsored Instagram post. This should make it easier to navigate to Fandango and quickly purchase a movie

Latest WhatsApp Update Touts Instagram and Facebook Video Support

WhatsApp for iOS has been updated to support inline Instagram and Facebook video playback, according to the messaging platform's latest release notes. YouTube videos have been playable for some time in WhatsApp, which also offers a Picture-in-Picture mode for continuing to watch while switching between chat threads. However, clicking on an Instagram or Facebook video link kicks users out of the app and into the respective hosting platform. The WhatsApp changelog for version 2.18.51 indicates support for Facebook and Instagram videos has now been greenlighted by the developers, although our tests suggest the feature is still being rolled out. The group administrator functions have also been tweaked in the latest version of the app, so that group admins can now revoke admin rights from other participants. To remove an admin, select the user in "Group Info" and select "Dismiss As Admin". In addition, group admins can now choose who can change a group's subject, icon, and description. These options can also be found in Group Info under the "Group Settings" section. At the recent Facebook F8 developers conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed WhatsApp will soon support group video calling, although he offered no timeline for the feature's introduction. The messaging platform is also set to support stickers "soon", including third-party ones made by

Instagram Adds Native Payments Option for Some Users

Instagram has added a native payments feature that's currently available to some Instagram users, reports TechCrunch. The payments feature allows Instagram users to add a credit or debit card to Instagram to make purchases of advertised products and services directly within the Instagram app. Instagram already has a shopping feature through Shoppable tags, but it requires users to access a third-party website to complete payments, so it is not the same as the new native option. An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch that native payments are currently available to some users for booking appointments at locations like restaurants and salons. Users who have access to the Payments feature will find it within the Instagram settings. A Profile tab allows a Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, or Discover credit or debit card to be added to the app, while a Security tab allows users to set a PIN for authorizing purchases. A separate Activity tab lists anything that a user has purchased on Instagram. Instagram has enabled Payments for a select number of retail partners, such as dinner reservation app Resy. Businesses that use Resy can accept in-app reservations and bookings using stored payment methods. Payments will expand to other products and services in the future, according to Instagram, allowing users to do things like purchase movie tickets and other items.