Recent Instagram Updates (September 2020)

Here’s what’s new with Instagram!

Sydney Wright

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Sydney Wright on

Sep 30, 2020

With the unveiling of Reels, Instagram’s new video sharing service that mirrors Tiktok, the platform has began to test three different home screen versions that promote Reels along with Instagram’s new shop service. Here’s what these new versions offer, along with what other changes Instagram has made in the recent months.

Testing Testing… Is this thing on?

Don’t get alarmed if your Instagram is still displaying the “old” home screen which has the bottom toolbar with the home page, search, (+) add new content, heart, and account profile. They’re only testing the three new versions on select accounts, so there’s a chance you haven’t noticed a change. 

Version #1 

While the top toolbar previously featured a camera (or story) button to the left and a button that leads to your direct messages to the right, the first version of the new home screen that Instagram is testing has switched this toolbar out for new options. Instead, it will now feature the search/explore page button, access to your page activity (heart), and your direct messages. 

The bottom toolbar has switched to feature the home page, Reels, (+) add content, Instagram Shop, and account profile. 

Version #2 

The second test version has a similar top toolbar, however the search/explore page button has been removed from the right side and the (+) add content button has been placed to the left hand side opposed to the center of the bottom toolbar. 

The bottom toolbar in this version showcases the homepage, search/explore page, Reels, Instagram Shop, and account profile. 

Version #3

Finally, this version has the most limited top toolbar out of the three, only featuring the (+) add content button and access to direct messages. 

The bottom toolbar on this version is more packed together, including the accounts homepage, search/explore page, Reels, Instagram Shop, page activity (heart), and account profile.  

The Features:

Reels

In wake of Tiktok facing a country-wide ban in India in July, and possible bans in other countries including the U.S., Instagram released Reels, a video sharing platform that in many ways seems to be a copycat service to Tiktok. However, there are differences that separate the two services. While in order to access Tiktok you must download the app, Reels is a feature within Instagram. While you can still distort video speed, add music & AR effects, and use tools that allow video jump cuts, reels is limited to 15 second videos while Tiktok allows 60 second videos by stinging multiple Tiktok videos together. Also, Reels is missing the side-by-side video feature, known on Tiktok as “Duets”. Finally, Tiktok includes templates to help beginners transition to using the app, while Reels seems to be targeted more towards previous Tiktok users who already know their way around the program. 

Instagram Shop 

The Instagram Shop is a new in-app shopping experience where businesses will be able to sell their products through a custom online store front right from Instagram. According to Hootsuite, “Over the next few weeks, all eligible U.S. business and creator accounts with Instagram Shops will have access to Instagram Checkout and Live shopping. Facebook has also added a Shop section to its platform.”

While selling fees are currently being waived, they will eventually be charging vendors to sell on this platform.

Election Information 

The app’s new layout isn’t the only feature Instagram has changed in the recent months. When opening the Instagram app, users are now met with a notification for voting resources and official updates about the 2020 election. 

Once clicked on, you are then brought to Instagram’s Voting Information Center, where you can register to vote & check your registration status, request a mail-in ballot, and get information such as deadlines, COVID-voting options, and military and overseas voting options. You can also find opportunities to become a poll worker in this virtual center. 

Equity Policies

In response to the company’s promises in June to combat racial injustice, Instagram has added an equity task-force along with updating company policies, changing the explore page algorithm, and altering the way they verify “blue check mark” accounts. 

When verifying accounts, Instagram has now taken away the automated system that takes into account follower count. They have also worked towards verifying more accounts controlled by people of color as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

See see if you’ve been chosen to test a new version of the Instagram homepage by checking out the Akullian Creative Instagram!