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Instagram Updates in Desperate Bid to Stay Relevant

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While it has a secure, certain user-base (at least for the time being), Instagram has never exactly been a hotbed for news or up-to-the-minute activity. Well, with just about everybody else pulling in that direction, it seems that the Facebook-owned photography app has decided to get in on the act.

With the latest, sizable update, app users can now search for pictures by location, as well as pulling up a list of trending places and hashtags. This week, for instance, Glastonbury will likely have a lot of pictures going up. I hear there's some religious event going on there or something. This feature will push Instagram more into line with other heavyweight platforms, Twitter in particular. It still won't be in any position to directly compete, but the hope is that it might become a preferred means of getting visual news. Emphasis on the 'hope'.

Alongside this, improved location functionality will heighten the amount of relevant content you get to see, steering the app further away still from a content feed for which you are the sole curator. This is certainly an improvement, making it far easier to access profiles and images without going to the effort of seeking them out, but it hinges on the idea that people will want to use Instagram for anything more than it already offers, a risky gambit.

Also new is the addition of rolling spotlight categories which collect images surrounding a particular theme (like 'Extreme Athletes') via algorithms and actual human members of the Instagram team. The guiding principle with all this seems to be that such a widely used photo sharing app could, if properly outfitted for it, give you a live visual feed of anything that's going on anywhere. Trouble is that's almost an exact description of Periscope, only with video, which is actually better for those purposes, if less pretty.

Time Magazine featured collections of images of Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Riots which were taken from Instagram (via petapixel.com)

The ease of searching is a no-brainer, Instagram's old search function was draconian, but the curated content might not be the big deal that they're making it out to be. Of course, none of these additions are going to Instagram any harm, and some of the more politically relevant images taken on the app have already become iconic. Even if it doesn't give Instagram the reinvented sheen it seems to be craving, the idea that it might lead to more of such images makes the whole thing worthwhile.


Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Instagram Updates in Desperate Bid to Stay Relevant Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, June 25, 2015 Rating: 5

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