It's the battle of the photo apps: Instagram introduced a new feature Tuesday that puts it in direct competition with the younger-skewing Snapchat. Instagram announced Instagram Stories, a feature that lets you post a string of photos and videos that will disappear after 24 hours. If you think this sounds a lot like the self-destructing posts that made Snapchat so popular, well, you're right.
In the ever more competitive world of social media apps, Instagram appears to be trying to combine its own appeal -- the ability to post carefully curated photos to a wide audience -- with Snapchat's more immediate and intimate quality of letting users create content that doesn't live online forever.
"I think what Snapchat figured out is that people don't always want to post every picture as something that is carefully curated and lined up and perfectly lit," CNET senior editor Dan Ackerman told CBS News. Snapchat has developed a particularly strong following among younger users, a coveted demographic.
Instagram's new Stories feature operates in an almost identical manner to Snapchat's. Users will find stories posted from people they follow at the top of their photo feed when logging into the app. When an account has a new story, a colorful ring will surround the profile photo. A user just has to tap on the profile photo to see the story, Instagram explained in a blog post.
If users want to comment on the story, they'll have to send a private message, since this feature doesn't allow "likes" or public comments. Stories will follow along with users' regular privacy settings. If you have a very private account, your story will only be available to your followers. That being said, you can also customize your privacy settings to keep your stories hidden from certain users.
It may help the company keep a step ahead of consumers, who tend to lose interest in once-popular apps as newer, more innovative options emerge. Instagram doesn't want to go the way of Twitter, which has been declining in popularity as other, flashier social media platform attract buzz.
"People are very fickle," Ackerman said. "They move from one service to another. Twitter started as the big guy and people got scared off from Twitter."
While Twitter morphed into more of a newsfeed or a "professional platform," as Ackerman put it, Instagram looks to combine the polished appeal of its original photo-sharing function while tapping into the zeitgeist that has made Snapchat so big.
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