Instagram just completely revamped its search and discover features to let users check out pictures of events as they’re happening, and more easily browse by location or hashtag.
“This is our North Star — what we’ve been shooting for all along,” cofounder and CEO Kevin Systrom told Wired. “It’s a real-time visual pulse for what is happening in the world.”
For a long time, Instagram’s search features have been notoriously clunky.
Before this update, you could search by hashtags but the app’s “Explore” tab was pretty basic, letting users browse in only two categories,”Photos” or “People.”
Now, anyone who fires up the app will see trending places and tags front-and-center, and be able to check out a curated selection of pictures from top Instagrammers in categories like “Extreme athletes” or location-based topics like “Towering Rocks.”
Because discovery was limited before this update, people mainly used Instagram to scroll through a feed of their friends photos.
But by introducing the ability to easily follow top hashtags and events in real time, Instagram puts itself much more in the same realm of Twitter and Snapchat’s Stories product.
Snapchat Stories curates user-uploaded photos around a certain topic or event, like the Oakland Warriors celebration parade or St. Patrick’s Day. Twitter has always operated around the concept of “live” and it’s soon rolling out new event-based features. Both give users a way to feel connected to a event as its happening.
With this roll-out, Instagram positions itself as another viable stream of information and news. Want to see what’s happening at Bonaroo? Check out the designated category page. Want to explore an area you’re thinking about visiting on vaca? Search it, and see photos collected from countless people who have documented their own experiences.
Having the ability to highlight real-time images around events and trends is something Instagram has long wanted to achieve.
Here’s how the new Explore tab will look:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.