Send a Harry Styles preview track over an Instagram message in new update

Instagram has added three messaging improvements to its app that should make conversations easier to manage and more colorful.

The updates include the ability to quickly share a post, share a short clip of a music track, and customize the chat background to one that's not black and white anymore.

Meta's photo-sharing platform has been busy, recently enabling Instagram on the web, the return of the chronological feed, and a bigger focus on helping users message each other in easier ways.

These three features build on that last promise, especially in sharing posts without leaving your feed.

What do you get?

Quick send will enable you to hold down the share button on a post in your feed, and quickly send it to a friend or family member without going anywhere else in the app.

You can also share 30-second clips of music tracks from Apple Music, with Amazon Music and Spotify integration coming soon.

Finally, there's the new ability to change the background of the person you're chatting with, which means you can finally get rid of the black or white background. Instagram isn't breaking new ground here. WhatsApp chat has a similar feature.

But while some may think that these are minor updates, they're potentially substantial ones for those who use Instagram more than they use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. With the ability to personalize your chat background and more easily share content through the main feed, it looks as though Instagram isn't done refining how you can message others on its app, and we may see more improvements in this area later this year.


Analysis: why do these updates matter?

Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri promised toward the end of 2021 that there would be a bigger focus on messaging and now the platform is delivering on that promise.

Messaging friends and family on Instagram has become more common in recent years, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing posts or just keeping in touch with those who only use Instagram has become a new standard for some users.

According to Instagram, 44% of its users are on the app to shop for products, so it's safe to assume that the majority would want to use messaging services to see where their purchases are, and if they want to receive special offers through the messaging side of Instagram.

However small these new features may sound for messaging, they leave us with the impression that this is an area of interest to Mosseri and the Instagram team. Granted, Meta also has Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in the same category, but Instagram is on its own siloed island where you can't get the same content through these apps and Facebook.

Instagram has always set itself apart from others, building bespoke services like Instagram Stories, Reels, and shopping. Meta usually holds a yearly conference called Facebook F8, where it gives updates on its products and platforms. We may see a similar event this year but with a name change (we'd suggest “Meta8”). So, there's a good chance we may be hearing more about messages on Instagram in the near future.

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“It’s important to give people choice”: Instagram explains why it brought back chronological feeds

Instagram has finally confirmed that the option to use a chronological feed is rolling out to all users on iOS and Android from today, March 23.

The rolling feed of images and video had changed in 2016 to one that was instead judged by algorithms. Instagram thought that users would prefer to be shown what they might like, rather than showing the latest images, with no ability to switch between modes.

However, users have been clamoring to scroll through a feed from newest to oldest, and Instagram has finally relented. Eventually, you will be given two options on your feed – Following and Favorites, which can then be set to show your posts chronologically.

TechRadar spoke to the company to find out why this change has occurred now, and whether this applies to Instagram's other features.

A logical choice, at last

This is an update that won't require you to go to the App Store or Google Play Store to update – it should appear on your feed soon.

It's a welcome change, and many had been wishing for the company to revert back to a chronological feed since it changed back in 2016. So much so, Instagram commented on this at the end of 2021 through a series of tweets.

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In the meantime, we asked an Instagram spokesperson as to why it decided to make the change. “For some time now, we’ve been working on different ways to give people more control over their experience. This is one of the many things we’re doing to give people more choice,” the spokesperson explains. “We moved away from a full chronological feed because we learned that many people were missing posts. That said, we think it’s important to give people choice – so we’re providing them with more options in Feed to tailor their experience.”

There is a small caveat to the return of the chronological feed; you can't currently set it as the default option, compared to what you can do with Twitter's two feeds. We asked if this was something that the company would consider in the future. “We’re giving new options within your Feed to give people more control and choice,” Instagram's spokesperson clarifies. “The Home Feed will remain a mix of content that you see today, including ranked content from people you follow, recommended content you may like, and more.”

Instagram Desktop creation on the web

(Image credit: Instagram)

Six years is a long time in technology, especially when it comes to social media. Since then, we've seen Instagram Stories and Reels arrive, alongside being able to access the platform on the web. We asked whether the chronological feed would also apply here as well, with some bad news, confirming just two platforms again to us. “This feature is currently only available on iOS and Android.”

Finally, with Reels attempting to take on TikTok in its rolling video, we wondered whether this would also reap the benefit of an organized feed. “Currently, Favourites only applies to posts that appear in Feed.”

For now at least, the first steps of a chronological feed have arrived. And while you can't make it the default view for your feed, alongside being able to apply it to your Reels or hashtag feeds, it's a start.

But with more users accessing the platform through iPads and web browsers on their Windows PCs, it's now a matter of when, not if, the chronological feed will also appear there as well.

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“It’s important to give people choice”: Instagram explains why it brought back chronological feeds

Instagram has finally confirmed that the option to use a chronological feed is rolling out to all users on iOS and Android from today, March 23.

The rolling feed of images and video had changed in 2016 to one that was instead judged by algorithms. Instagram thought that users would prefer to be shown what they might like, rather than showing the latest images, with no ability to switch between modes.

However, users have been clamoring to scroll through a feed from newest to oldest, and Instagram has finally relented. Eventually, you will be given two options on your feed – Following and Favorites, which can then be set to show your posts chronologically.

TechRadar spoke to the company to find out why this change has occurred now, and whether this applies to Instagram's other features.

A logical choice, at last

This is an update that won't require you to go to the App Store or Google Play Store to update – it should appear on your feed soon.

It's a welcome change, and many had been wishing for the company to revert back to a chronological feed since it changed back in 2016. So much so, Instagram commented on this at the end of 2021 through a series of tweets.

See more

In the meantime, we asked an Instagram spokesperson as to why it decided to make the change. “For some time now, we’ve been working on different ways to give people more control over their experience. This is one of the many things we’re doing to give people more choice,” the spokesperson explains. “We moved away from a full chronological feed because we learned that many people were missing posts. That said, we think it’s important to give people choice – so we’re providing them with more options in Feed to tailor their experience.”

There is a small caveat to the return of the chronological feed; you can't currently set it as the default option, compared to what you can do with Twitter's two feeds. We asked if this was something that the company would consider in the future. “We’re giving new options within your Feed to give people more control and choice,” Instagram's spokesperson clarifies. “The Home Feed will remain a mix of content that you see today, including ranked content from people you follow, recommended content you may like, and more.”

Instagram Desktop creation on the web

(Image credit: Instagram)

Six years is a long time in technology, especially when it comes to social media. Since then, we've seen Instagram Stories and Reels arrive, alongside being able to access the platform on the web. We asked whether the chronological feed would also apply here as well, with some bad news, confirming just two platforms again to us. “This feature is currently only available on iOS and Android.”

Finally, with Reels attempting to take on TikTok in its rolling video, we wondered whether this would also reap the benefit of an organized feed. “Currently, Favourites only applies to posts that appear in Feed.”

For now at least, the first steps of a chronological feed have arrived. And while you can't make it the default view for your feed, alongside being able to apply it to your Reels or hashtag feeds, it's a start.

But with more users accessing the platform through iPads and web browsers on their Windows PCs, it's now a matter of when, not if, the chronological feed will also appear there as well.

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Meta wants to make Instagram users suffer with NFT features soon – but why?

It's been confirmed that Instagram will be featuring the ability to buy and mine an NFT soon, in Meta's further attempt to stifle innovation and force crypto-currency to unsuspecting users.

According to Engadget, the head of Meta, Mark Zuckerburg, confirmed during a talk at SXSW that the company was looking into features that would enable you to mine NFTs on Instagram, completely missing the point of what the social platform is for.

While I could fill this article with nothing but the word 'Why' repeated across four paragraphs, I wanted to express my distaste of NFTs (Non-Fungible Token) and how they have no place on social media platforms.

We've already seen bizarre decisions from Twitter in previous weeks, and it looks as though Meta is also drinking the same water if it thinks that NFTs are a good idea for Instagram. We're so early in this technology, here's why I think that it shouldn't be considered as a feature for at least five years, giving tokens the time to mature to a point that they can help, rather than hinder.

Non-fungible sense

If you've seen the term NFT be bandied around, they are non-fungible tokens that take an image that will have a unique code of numbers attached to it. This code will be exclusive to you, and this means that you'll be able to sell or trade that unique code as you wish.

This is what Meta is planning for Instagram, as a way of extending the shopping experience that you can already do on the app. But already it feels lazy.

At the event, Zuckerberg spoke of Instagram and NFTs but wasn't prepared to give a date of when the feature would land. “I'm not ready to kind of announce exactly what that's going to be today,” Zuckerberg clarified. “But over the next several months, the ability to bring some of your NFTs in, hopefully over time be able to mint things within that environment.”

The environment is an ironic word to use here, due to the fact that mining NFTs have already proven to be a detriment to the electrical grid that we use every day.

According to Investopedia, minting one NFT is the equivalent of using the same amount of electricity as an average American household for around nine days. We've already seen the pushback from so many users to companies that have been advertising NFTs for their brands and products, only to quickly roll back their commitment. Team17 was an unfortunate example of this in the gaming industry, and already we're seeing a dip in NFT popularity amongst mainstream users.

But deciding to attach NFT to Instagram feels half-baked already. Just because it's a social platform that deals in photos, automatically means that NFTs are a natural fit for Instagram.

Banjo Kazooie

(Image credit: Rare / Nintendo)

But these tokens are already expanding to other avenues. Seeing the term 'play to earn' with NFT has been making me uncomfortable. I've started to see it on ads in between YouTube videos I'd watch at the weekend, and instantly go to the 'report ad' button.

Looking beyond the behemoth that the gaming industry has become, games are there to be enjoyed, to be used as a form of escape. It's spawned careers and dreams for so many people, but not once have you played a level of Banjo Kazooie and thought, 'Maybe Gruntilda can pay for my phone bill this month through an NFT?'

The same applies to social media apps. During the early days of MSN Messenger, MySpace and Bebo, you would keep in touch with friends and family, perhaps even carrying on any conversations you've had with them from earlier that day.

Having NFTs in social media apps is a distraction and gets away from why you use these platforms in the first place. Let's also consider the users who only reach for Instagram and other apps occasionally, and who wouldn't be interested in NFTs at all. It feels pointless and unnecessary in the long term, not just for users, but for Meta as well.

But for me, NFTs are bad for everyone in 2022. There may be a time where the fourth or fifth generation of this technology will be a benefit. Perhaps these next- next-next-generation of NFTs toward the end of the decade will also help the environment instead of damage it.

But as it stands, they're a wasteful use of time and resources. In an era where Meta is trying to save face while enduring a multitude of controversies, from Cambridge Analytica to dealing with hate speech across its platforms of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, perhaps the company should focus on those issues first, rather than trying to chase an innovation that's already looking like a fool's errand.

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Read More

Meta wants to make Instagram users suffer with NFT features soon – but why?

It's been confirmed that Instagram will be featuring the ability to buy and mine an NFT soon, in Meta's further attempt to stifle innovation and force crypto-currency to unsuspecting users.

According to Engadget, the head of Meta, Mark Zuckerburg, confirmed during a talk at SXSW that the company was looking into features that would enable you to mine NFTs on Instagram, completely missing the point of what the social platform is for.

While I could fill this article with nothing but the word 'Why' repeated across four paragraphs, I wanted to express my distaste of NFTs (Non-Fungible Token) and how they have no place on social media platforms.

We've already seen bizarre decisions from Twitter in previous weeks, and it looks as though Meta is also drinking the same water if it thinks that NFTs are a good idea for Instagram. We're so early in this technology, here's why I think that it shouldn't be considered as a feature for at least five years, giving tokens the time to mature to a point that they can help, rather than hinder.

Non-fungible sense

If you've seen the term NFT be bandied around, they are non-fungible tokens that take an image that will have a unique code of numbers attached to it. This code will be exclusive to you, and this means that you'll be able to sell or trade that unique code as you wish.

This is what Meta is planning for Instagram, as a way of extending the shopping experience that you can already do on the app. But already it feels lazy.

At the event, Zuckerberg spoke of Instagram and NFTs but wasn't prepared to give a date of when the feature would land. “I'm not ready to kind of announce exactly what that's going to be today,” Zuckerberg clarified. “But over the next several months, the ability to bring some of your NFTs in, hopefully over time be able to mint things within that environment.”

The environment is an ironic word to use here, due to the fact that mining NFTs have already proven to be a detriment to the electrical grid that we use every day.

According to Investopedia, minting one NFT is the equivalent of using the same amount of electricity as an average American household for around nine days. We've already seen the pushback from so many users to companies that have been advertising NFTs for their brands and products, only to quickly roll back their commitment. Team17 was an unfortunate example of this in the gaming industry, and already we're seeing a dip in NFT popularity amongst mainstream users.

But deciding to attach NFT to Instagram feels half-baked already. Just because it's a social platform that deals in photos, automatically means that NFTs are a natural fit for Instagram.

Banjo Kazooie

(Image credit: Rare / Nintendo)

But these tokens are already expanding to other avenues. Seeing the term 'play to earn' with NFT has been making me uncomfortable. I've started to see it on ads in between YouTube videos I'd watch at the weekend, and instantly go to the 'report ad' button.

Looking beyond the behemoth that the gaming industry has become, games are there to be enjoyed, to be used as a form of escape. It's spawned careers and dreams for so many people, but not once have you played a level of Banjo Kazooie and thought, 'Maybe Gruntilda can pay for my phone bill this month through an NFT?'

The same applies to social media apps. During the early days of MSN Messenger, MySpace and Bebo, you would keep in touch with friends and family, perhaps even carrying on any conversations you've had with them from earlier that day.

Having NFTs in social media apps is a distraction and gets away from why you use these platforms in the first place. Let's also consider the users who only reach for Instagram and other apps occasionally, and who wouldn't be interested in NFTs at all. It feels pointless and unnecessary in the long term, not just for users, but for Meta as well.

But for me, NFTs are bad for everyone in 2022. There may be a time where the fourth or fifth generation of this technology will be a benefit. Perhaps these next- next-next-generation of NFTs toward the end of the decade will also help the environment instead of damage it.

But as it stands, they're a wasteful use of time and resources. In an era where Meta is trying to save face while enduring a multitude of controversies, from Cambridge Analytica to dealing with hate speech across its platforms of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, perhaps the company should focus on those issues first, rather than trying to chase an innovation that's already looking like a fool's errand.

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Instagram is the latest app to get a ban in Russia

It was only a matter of time really: after blocking access to Facebook within its borders, Russia has now announced that another Meta-owned platform, Instagram, is also going to be banned in the country from the start of next week.

The decision was made by Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor (via Protocol) after Meta said it would permit certain calls for violence against invading Russian soldiers on Instagram and Facebook – something the Kremlin was not happy about.

Meta as a whole has now been labeled as an “extremist” organization by Russian authorities, and legal proceedings have been started against it. The block will begin on Monday, March 14.

For its part, Meta has emphasized that its relaxing of the rules around calls to violence are specific to the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They only apply in Ukraine itself, and only to Russian military forces, not the Russian people.

More blocks

“Our policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country,” said Facebook's Nick Clegg in a statement. It's for “ordinary Ukranians expressing their resistance and fury” at the invasion, the statement continued.

As the war has played out over social media, Russia has been busy trying to stem the tide of anti-Russian sentiment while also spreading misinformation of its own. Twitter seems to be unofficially blocked or at least heavily restricted, while TikTok is only displaying content from Russia inside Russia.

On the other side, Russian state-owned media outlets have been banned from both the Google and Apple app stores. In recent days, pro-Russia accounts on social media have been suggesting scenes of suffering and devastation in Ukraine are actually staged.

With the wider world continuing to show anger and disbelief at the actions of Russia, the country finds itself increasingly isolated. Numerous tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft, are no longer doing business in Russia as the war continues.

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Instagram is the latest app to get a ban in Russia

It was only a matter of time really: after blocking access to Facebook within its borders, Russia has now announced that another Meta-owned platform, Instagram, is also going to be banned in the country from the start of next week.

The decision was made by Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor (via Protocol) after Meta said it would permit certain calls for violence against invading Russian soldiers on Instagram and Facebook – something the Kremlin was not happy about.

Meta as a whole has now been labeled as an “extremist” organization by Russian authorities, and legal proceedings have been started against it. The block will begin on Monday, March 14.

For its part, Meta has emphasized that its relaxing of the rules around calls to violence are specific to the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They only apply in Ukraine itself, and only to Russian military forces, not the Russian people.

More blocks

“Our policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country,” said Facebook's Nick Clegg in a statement. It's for “ordinary Ukranians expressing their resistance and fury” at the invasion, the statement continued.

As the war has played out over social media, Russia has been busy trying to stem the tide of anti-Russian sentiment while also spreading misinformation of its own. Twitter seems to be unofficially blocked or at least heavily restricted, while TikTok is only displaying content from Russia inside Russia.

On the other side, Russian state-owned media outlets have been banned from both the Google and Apple app stores. In recent days, pro-Russia accounts on social media have been suggesting scenes of suffering and devastation in Ukraine are actually staged.

With the wider world continuing to show anger and disbelief at the actions of Russia, the country finds itself increasingly isolated. Numerous tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft, are no longer doing business in Russia as the war continues.

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WhatsApp update is borrowing another feature from Messenger and Instagram

WhatsApp is testing a feature where you can react to a message with a heart emoji, similar to a feature in both Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

Meta owns all three of these messaging apps, yet there are users who don't have all of these apps installed on their devices. But there's a need for similar features across these apps, as long as they make sense, and reactions are a good example of this.

Reacting to messages is a useful way of replying to someone without typing out a sentence. It can inform the sender that you've seen the message, but you don't have time to reply to anything substantial as yet.

Currently in testing for the desktop app of WhatsApp in version 2.2208.1, you can try out the feature on Windows 11 and macOS.


Analysis: When features from other apps work well

WhatsApp Desktop reactions

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp all fall under the same umbrella as Meta, the parent company headed up by Mark Zuckerberg.

Every app either is a messaging app or has messaging features. But in some way, these are all used by its users, and some features work better on different platforms, from iOS to Windows.

Stories are a great example of this – they don't make sense for WhatsApp, yet it's on the app in the 'Status' tab. But for Instagram, it does make sense, and it works well for its users, as it's a great way of sharing photos and videos in short bursts.

For reactions, it's another feature where it helps to reply to a message quickly, without using your keyboard, and for WhatsApp it makes sense.

Taking features from other apps should only occur if they work towards the app's intended purpose, and with how a user interacts with the app in question.

While Stories didn't work for WhatsApp, reactions do, so it'll be interesting to see what other features from Messenger and Instagram carry across in the coming months.

Via WaBetaInfo

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Glass app trumps Instagram by bringing its photo-sharing network to iPad

Instagram's move away from its photographic core has left a spot open for enthusiast-friendly photo-sharing apps like Glass – and now that new contender has brought its glossy, magazine-like experience to iPad.

Glass 2.0 is now available for iPads running iPadOS 14.0 or later, although you'll still need to pay the monthly £4.49 / $ 4.99 or £24.99 / $ 29.99 annual subscription to access it. There's a two-week free trial to give you a taster, though.

As we discovered in our exclusive interview with the makers of Glass, this membership fee is partly a result of the developers' decision to forego venture capital investment, with the aim being to create a sustainable community.

Given what's happened to Instagram, and many other pretenders to its photographic throne, this seems a wise move – and the arrival of an iPad app in particular supports the idea of a photo-centric sharing space. 

The larger screen gives you a better view of painstakingly-crafted shots, and many photographers use iPads anyway as part of their in-the-field editing workflow thanks to apps like Lightroom. Strangely, Instagram has never launched a dedicated iPad app and, last year, said that one is unlikely to arrive anytime soon.

Since its launch six months ago, Glass has added new features including categories and 'appreciations' for liking photos, but there's no algorithm running behind it to organize your feed. Instead, you get the chronological feed that Instagram has hinted will be returning to its app in 2022.

The Glass team will also be launching a web-based version of its app, to rival the likes of Flickr, with a beta version expected to arrive in March or April.


Analysis: A pricey but polished Instagram alternative 

The Glass app on iPad

(Image credit: Glass)

Our early experience with the Glass iPad app is that it's a little buggy, with the app having a tendency to crash on our iPad Air. But we're sure these wrinkles will be ironed out and the app certainly has potential on the bigger screen of Apple's tablets.

Sadly, there's no Android version in the works just yet, with Glass' maker stating that its focus is currently on launching Glass for Web over the next few months. But if you're an iOS fan and photographer, the free trial is certainly worth a spin.

There is currently a gap between Instagram – which we've previously argued is broken for photographers – and veteran platforms like Flickr, which is big on community but lacks the polish of Glass.

There's no doubt the £4.49 / $ 4.99 monthly or £24.99 / $ 29.99 subscription fee is pretty high and could be off-putting for anyone who's bank balance is currently enduring death by a thousand subscriptions.

But the flip-side is that the ad-free Glass is being developed by a small team of photography enthusiasts who are keen to avoid the bloat and e-commerce traps that have lured Instagram away from its photographic heritage.

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