Instagram inadvertently pushed an update to its app last evening which enabled horizontal scrolling for feed on the photo-sharing platform. The feature, which was enabled Apple’s iOS at around 7:30PM IST, received a lot of flak from Instagram users. In fact, the new UI seemed similar to that of Stories format and suddenly raised a question if the Facebook-owned company is forcing the format on its users. Instagram, was quick to note its mistake, and the feature was disabled within minutes of it going live. However, Internet did not like the new interface and most users seemed baffled by the algorithmic switch.
This is not the first time that we saw the new interface in action. Instagram began testing horizontal scrolling for feed few months back but it was limited to a small set of users. Yesterday, the company seems to have pushed a switch which accidentally enabled the feature for all of its users on Apple’s iOS platform. There were no reports of users seeing the change in feed format on Android, the mobile platform developed by Google. In response, Instagram said that the sudden change in feed orientation was caused by a bug.
“Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion,” an Instagram spokesperson said in an email. Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, said that it was supposed to be a very small test but “we went broader than we anticipated.” He also confirmed that the feature remains in testing for now and is not coming to all anytime soon but it raises further questions about how Instagram wants to evolve its service going forward.
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Instagram, which started as a photo-sharing service, once allowed users to only post square-format images. However, in the past year, it has started allowing people to post vertical images as well and users can post multiple images allowing for up to 10 images at a time. It also supports sending direct messages and video calling with friends. It has also copied Snapchat’s Stories format, allowing users to post 15-second disappearing videos. With the horizontal feed, the question is whether Instagram wants to further push sponsored content on the feed and thus monetize its platform.