1. Check out the New Instagram Explore Page
Since it first launched in June 2015, Instagram’s Search & Explore page has undergone some pretty major changes. There’s the “Picked for You” channels that were added in 2016 — and ability to search for locations and hashtags that rolled out just last year.
The biggest update to the Instagram Explore page was announced at F8, giving you a first look at the totally redesigned Instagram Explore page that’s coming soon.
In addition to showing you popular Instagram posts based on what you like and watch, the new Instagram Explore page will also let you browse content by interests via the new “channels” feature.
These topic channels will be based on your personal interests and tastes, so rather than just seeing content that Instagram thinks you’ll like, you’ll be able to pick and choose the content you engage with, whether that’s “sports,” “puppies,” or “slime.”
In other words, users will have much more control over the content they see, and the new Instagram explore page will also make it easier for Instagram users to find and interact with your business on Instagram!
It looks like Instagram is currently testing the new explore page, here’s a peek at what it looks like in action:
According to Tamar Shapiro, a data scientist at Instagram, the new Instagram Explore page will be powered by an “augmented AI” (artificial intelligence) with “content classification and curation signals.” The result will be a more personalized and easy-to-use experience that’s tailored to your specific interests.
Instagram hasn’t given specifics about the release date, but we hope it’s soon! Subscribe to our popular Instagram newsletter to find out when it’s released:
2. Group Video Chat is Coming to Instagram
As Zuckerberg noted in his F8 keynote, he’s discovered that a lot of people use live video just to hang out when they can’t physically be together. “It’s amazing how many of these social tools are about getting as close to feeling like we’re there with someone,” he said.
To make this even easier, Zuckerberg announced that Instagram is launching its very own Video Chat, giving users the ability to talk privately with one or more people over a video call.
As seen during Shilpa Sarkar’s demo of the feature, when it’s released, a new camera icon will appear at the top of any Instagram Direct thread you have with other users (aka your private DMs). When you tap on the icon, it will call the other user or users, just like FaceTime or WhatsApp video calling.
Users will also be able to minimize the chat so they can continue using the feature while scrolling through Instagram, which we think is pretty cool!
According to Sarkar, Instagram is currently testing the feature and plans to roll it out in the coming weeks.
3. Create Your Own Instagram Stories Face Filters with the AR Camera Effects
A major theme of F8 2018 was the focus on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which sounds like a far-off, futuristic technology. But did you know that you likely interact with augmented reality every day?
Instagram’s cute face filters are actually a great example of how augmented reality can fit into our lives and create fun, magical experiences.
And soon, people and brands will be able to make and share their own filters for Instagram Stories.
If you’ve ever looked at the Facebook camera before, you would have noticed that there are completely different filters available through Facebook than what’s offered through Instagram Stories.
This is because last year at F8, Facebook introduced the AR Camera Platform, which allows developers to create their own 3D effects that can be placed inside photos or videos on Facebook and Messenger.
And now, Facebook is opening up the filter floodgates by bringing AR camera effects to Instagram! This means that creators, influencers, and brands will be able to create their own custom Instagram filters using Facebook’s AR Studio.
But, you will only be able to use these custom filters IF you follow the influencer or brand on Instagram, giving you a huge incentive to get into AR! You can also try on the filters if you see one of your friends using the filter in Instagram Stories, which means the Instagram AR filters are basically designed to go viral, and are a huge growth opportunit.
For example, if @nba designs an effect and you follow their account on Instagram, you’ll be able to use that effect in your own Instagram Stories.
But what if you don’t follow the NBA on Instagram? Well, according to Jioty Sood, product manager at Instagram, there is a workaround for this. If one of your friends who follows @nba on Instagram posts a story or DMs you using the effect, you’ll be able to access it as well!
According to the Verge, this feature is currently in a closed beta, but you can expect a partnership with Kylie Jenner coming soon that will allow you to try on Kylie Cosmetics lip kits within Instagram Stories, if that’s your thing!
(Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty debuted a Facebook filter last December that allows you to try on her highlighter, too).
Making augmented reality accessible to anyone on Instagram was my personal favorite announcement from F8, and I’m so excited to see how the world embraces AR in Instagram in 2018.
4. Share Your Favorite Spotify Songs to Instagram with New Sharing Tools for Stories
A major Instagram Stories trend lately has been to post screenshots of songs you’re listening to or loving to your story, but it doesn’t make for the best experience, mainly because you can’t actually listen to the song.
That’s all about to change with the new “Sharing to Stories” feature that is available for both Instagram and Facebook.
Now, when you’re listening to a song, playlist, or album you love in Spotify and want to share it to your Instagram Stories, all you have to do is tap the new “share” button in the Spotify app!
The song appears as a sticker in your stories, and you can continue to edit your story like normal. The sticker is a deep link to the Spotify app, allowing you to seamlessly start listening to a new song from Instagram Stories.
And, in addition to being able to share from Spotify, users will also be able to share their latest GoPro footage directly to Instagram as well. Sharing to Stories is launching with Spotify and GoPro, with more apps coming soon!
Personally, I would love to see sharing to stories from apps like the New York Times, Netflix, and various photo editing apps. Restaurants could create an Instagram Stories Highlight with an OpenTable sticker that deep links right to the app to make a reservation.
The possibilities are endless, especially for e-commerce apps like ASOS and Sephora, where you could crowdsource a purchase before buying it by posting to your story and setting up a quick poll.
Selling a product on Amazon? You could share a deep link to the app in your story with your followers! Influencers could also share affiliate links, and instead of using “swipe up!” to the product page, you could just embed the product directly into your stories.
Since it’s a deep link, when you click on the content in the story it will just open the app for you instead of opening a new webpage, giving you a better shopping experience without losing your place on Instagram.
What apps would you like to share to your stories? Let us know in the comments!
5. Instagram is Now Filtering Out Bullying Comments with It’s Latest Update
In September 2016, Instagram first announced the ability to filter comments based on keywords. And while the update was certainly a step forward in eliminating harassment from the platform, Instagram just announced that they’re taking their comment filtering technology a step further.
According to Instagram, the new anti-bullying feature uses machine learning to identify language that’s intended to harass or upset people. When this type of language is identified, the offensive comment will automatically be removed.
It’s difficult to say how broad Instagram’s interpretation of offensive language will be, but according to the announcement, the feature is aimed at “comments containing attacks on a person’s appearance or character, as well as threats to a person’s well-being or health.”
The future is automatically enabled for every user, so if you want to see unfiltered comments you will have to disable the feature in the Comment Controls centre in the Instagram app.