Instagram’s mobile website, which so far had minimal functionality, was upgraded with features from the core app so users can upload photos and access the ‘explore’ tab.
“Instagram.com (accessed from mobile) is a web experience optimised for mobile phones. It’s designed to help people have a fuller experience on Instagram no matter what device or network they are on,” the company said in a statement to Mobile World Live.
The photo sharing option began rolling out quietly in March while a condensed version of the explore page is being deployed now. Previously the mobile (and desktop) website only let users view their notifications and feed. The desktop version remains the same.
Instagram’s move appears to be aimed at the app maker’s users outside the US, which make up 80 per cent of its 700 million user base, many of whom may be in regions with slow networks or expensive data. As part of the strategy, it recently added offline functionality for Android users.
In the past, parent Facebook tackled such regions by launching ‘lite’ versions of its core app and Messenger, targeting markets with slower than average internet speeds and a prevalence of basic Android smartphones – the iOS version of Instagram is 101MB in size.
Facebook recently extended Messenger Lite to over 100 more countries.
There are still some features only the Instagram app offers, though, such as uploading videos, adding filters and directly messaging contacts.
Facebook’s strategy of international expansion appears to be the opposite of rival Snapchat, which is focused on the world’s top ten advertising markets.
Instagram used this to its advantage, cloning Snapchat’s popular Stories feature, and hitting 200 million daily active users for the feature alone, which is more users than Snapchat.