4 New Features Under Testing on Instagram!

How many do you already know about?

Our favorite Snapchat replacement application has been working hard in the new year to test several features for its platform. While it doesn’t mean that all of these features will be rolled out with any certainty, it’s always good to know what you can look forward to!

I. Activity Status

What is it?

Image courtesy of The Verge

Many users can now see when their friends were last active on Instagram. These activity updates can be so specific as to inform you that the user is currently active, so that if you send them a message at that very moment, they have very little reason not to be responding.

What to note

While this feature might make sense given that Instagram is gradually becoming more business-oriented and both brands and influencers might want to find out when the other party is likely to reply, it is interesting to note that this test feature is not limited to business accounts. Perhaps this might mean that Instagram is going in the way of its parent-company, Facebook, which already provides such information to its users.

For now, it’s still possible to disable the feature by following these steps. Go to your profile > Settings gear > Show Activity Status and toggle the feature off. Do note that switching the feature off also means that you will not be able to see the activity statuses of your friends.

II. Re-sharing of Posts [Regramming] to Stories

What is it?

Image courtesy of The Next Web

Many thirdparty apps have been created to allow users to regram (or repost) another user’s Instagram posts with greater ease. While this has allowed information (as well as nice images and videos) to be readily shared with other users, it has also led to multiple instances of the sharing of non-original works. In any case, it seems like Instagram is now testing such a feature in-app.

What to note

While this might be a welcome feature to some, it appears that Instagram is not allowing users to re-share these posts onto their feeds. Instead, users are given the option to share said posts onto their Stories and to edit those Stories in various ways. According to TechCrunch, the feature “is currently only testing with a small percentage of users”, so don’t be surprised if it has not been made available to you.

III. Screenshot Alert for Stories

What is it?

Image courtesy of Mashable

A Story on Instagram only stays on the platform for 24 hours. So what happens if viewers want to see said Story for all eternity? They screenshot it, of course.

Since the introduction of Instagram Stories a year and a half ago, users have been able to take screenshots without being found out–but perhaps no more. Instagram has begun testing a feature where users are informed if screenshots have been taken of their Story.

What to note

Given that Stories is meant to be ephemeral content, this move makes good sense on Instagram’s part. It ensures that regular users are informed if their content continues to exist in someone else’s device despite their desire for it to disappear after 24 hours. For brands and influencers, on the other hand, the number of screenshots taken could be an indication of greater interest in a particular Story. If there’s a clear trend, make sure to leverage it and make a post out of it for higher engagement.

IV. Video Calling

What is it?

Image courtesy of WABetaInfo

This is a function that allows users who have already started a Direct Messaging conversation with each other to begin a video chat. The icon that allowed for this functionality was first reported by WABetaInfo, but has not been confirmed by Instagram. This perhaps suggests that the development of this feature is at its very infancy (and it will be awhile before it is officially released for beta-testing), or that this is not a function that will see the light of day.

What to note

From what little we know about, it seems like this feature might be most applicable to those who use Instagram on a personal or private basis. While the social media application has primarily been used as a photo- and video-sharing platform, features like video-calling and the above-mentioned activity status updates seem to signal a move towards enabling more personal and direct forms of communication. Although Facebook itself and WhatsApp already provide such direct messaging and video-calling services, it seems that Instagram might be gearing itself towards providing an all-round service.

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