It may have been an unabashed Snapchat clone at the start, but Instagram is introducing new features that give Stories its own identity. Three months after the feature was released, Instagram has released a major Stories update, which includes everything from links to mentions to Boomerang support built right in.
The most notable new feature is the inclusion of Boomerang, which allows users to make short videos that play forward and backward. Rather than using the standalone app, Stories now lets users create Boomerang videos right inside Instagram. When you open up Stories, you’ll see a new format picker under the record button where you can select Boomerang mode.
The update also includes Mentions. Now, users can tag people in their stories just like they can in regular posts. When adding text to your story, just type “@“ followed by a username and you can select the person you’d like to mention. Usernames will appear underlined in Stories, according to Instagram, encouraging people to click on them.
Just like normal posts, Instagram will send you a notification if you’re mentioned in someone’s story. If you’re mentioned by someone you don’t follow, that notification will appear in your message requests.
Last but not least, the update also introduces the ability to share links right from your story. Unfortunately, Instagram says the feature is only available to verified accounts. Instagram says it’s testing the feature to see how well it works for brands and celebrities. It’s unclear if links will ever come to regular users.
All of these new features combine to differentiate Instagram Stories from Snapchat, which the Facebook-owned social network shamelessly copied at launch. With over 100 million people using Instagram Stories every day, the feature is already a major hit, and it’s still growing.
I can see Boomerang mode being a particular boon for Stories, as it adds action without users having to create a full 10-second video. It’s also unlike anything offered by Snapchat. But that’s not to say Snapchat still doesn’t have a leg up on Instagram Stories in the feature department.
There still isn’t a Lens feature in Instagram Stories, which is a major part of what makes Snapchat so fun to use.
The update is available now for iOS, Android, and Windows 10.