Instagram's new features show ambition to become real-time news source

Instagram’s new features show ambition to become real-time news source

25 JUN 2015

Instagram has announced a new ‘explore’ page for its app featuring trending tags and places as well as a “more powerful search” to help users sift through the 70 million-plus photos and videos posted on it every day.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the move reflects a desire by the Facebook-owned photo sharing app maker to become a source for the latest news.

“People are hungry for what’s happening right now in the world,” the report quoted Instagram CEO and cofounder Kevin Systrom as saying.

“All of us in social media and regular media, we’re all competing for the same thing, which is this gap between something happening in the world and you knowing about it.”

Instagram is not alone in wanting to capitalise on live events. Twitter is working on a product dubbed Project Lightning that organises tweets based on live events and recently invested $67 million in live streaming app Periscope.

Periscope hit one million downloads in its debut week on iOS in March, and secured similar success on the back of its Android launch two months later.

As for the updates, Instagram says it has “completely reimagined the explore page to make discovery immediate and effortless. The new explore now surfaces trends as they emerge in real-time, connecting you to events and conversations both near you and around the globe.”

The top of the explore page will feature new curated collections that will be updated regularly.

However, for now these updates are only available in the US.

“We’ll work to bring it to the rest of the world after we fine tune the experience and set it up to work well in other countries,” the company said.

Search improvements
Instagram has also “dramatically improved” its search for its 300 million-plus users, who spend more than 20 minutes a day on the site on average.

“With the new places search, users can peer in at just about any location on earth, the new Top Search also lets you search across people, places and tags all at once,” it said.

Its new algorithm groups images from specific places based on popularity — including how many likes and comments they got and how much time was spent on them — and how recently they were posted.

Instagram will also group images by hashtag, including tags that may be worded differently but are still related.

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Saleha Riaz

Saleha joined Mobile World Live in October 2014 as a reporter and works across all e-newsletters - creating content, writing blogs and reports as well as conducting feature interviews...More

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