Instagram Breaks Free Of The Box: What This Means For App Users and Advertisers
Insta-sizing apps everywhere are shaking in their space boots today, but Instagram is now cemented in our smartphones as our most-used, most-opened, most exciting app ever, with one crucial and earth-shattering (too strong?) update: the inclusion of portrait and landscape orientations.
This is, to say the least, a game changer. Instagram has always enforced the square format for its pictures, leading to some frustration with using the app. In a statement released to the Instagram blog on Aug. 27th, 2015, Instagram acknowledge this problem:
“…friends get cut out of group shots, the subject of your video feels cramped and you can’t capture the Golden Gate Bridge from end to end.”
Speaking as someone who just visited the Golden Gate Bridge, I can wholeheartedly attest to this one design flaw in an otherwise utterly addictive app.
I open Instagram upward of 25 times a day, I’m only somewhat embarrassed to admit. In addition to loving to see what friends, bloggers, and celebrities are posting on a daily basis, I also use Instagram as another social media outlet to promote my blog and stay engaged with followers. This is perhaps the most important Instagram update ever.
Now, with the update, I no longer have to shoot outfit photos that are framed specifically to be cropped for Instagram. I don’t have to keep my Camera app in perpetual square mode to make sure the photos I take don’t have to be cropped at all. I can post group shots I took with a selfie stick, and hellooooo panoramas!
Of course, all of this was already available by using a third-party sizing app like Instasize to add padding to photos so that they fit in the measurements, but that leaves us with the awkward pink or blue borders around our image when we inevitably add filters. And Instasizing apps are notoriously scorned by bloggers for looking amateur, which they are. After all, we all love that uniform look of our profiles when the photos sit edge to edge, no white space as punctuation.
By adding this update, Instagram shows that they’re one hundred percent committed to their app being used as the de facto image app for bloggers and more important, brands, to post ads. They’re cementing their place in the business as the app people use when they want to advertise, and that’s a powerful move. They’re making themselves indispensable.
If you’ve been on the app at all in the past year, you’ll notice one thing: the occasional ad. For the most part, they’re innocuous and easily scrolled past. But you’ll also notice that movies are obviously not shot in square mode. How are brands, entertainment industries and other companies supposed to promote their products and content with such a restrictive format?
Instagram is making advertisers a lot happier with this game-changing update, and it just so happens that it’s a lot easier for the casual user, too.
In some ways, it makes me sad. Instagram and square photos go hand-in-hand; it’s an iconic characteristic of the brand. It sort of forces creativity, even if it does lock you in a literal box. But this update goes beyond nostalgia and brand recognition: this is about the future of the app. Instagram is out to make their photo app the only one to use, and they’re on the right track.
After all, more millennials and teenagers use Instagram than Twitter, and with Facebook being more and more inundated with parents and the over-40 set, Instagram has become the hottest, hippest, easiest and most fun social media platform since the early days of MySpace, to be quite honest. And now, it’s more customizable than ever.
The update also includes support for portrait and landscape video with filters able to be applied to said videos, as well as a toggle option to increase or decrease the strength of filters, a feature which some photo-editing apps, notably Camera+ and Afterlight, have had as a standard for years. Instagram wants to make their app nearly perfect.
Now, if only they could integrate upward scroll…