Instagram tries yet ANOTHER new look (but we're not overly sold)

Instagram Reels
(Image credit: Facebook)

There was a time when Instagram was simple to use. All you had to do was snap a photo, stick a filter on it, add a frame (remember those?) and post. Countless new features later and it's become more than a little convoluted as a platform, borrowing several of its rivals' features. And it seems Instagram is about to get even more confusing.

A leaked prototype has revealed that the company is working on a new version of its Stories feed that scrolls vertically instead of horizontally, much like TikTok. Rather than streamlining its UI, it seems Instagram is instead throwing even more of its rivals' features into the mix. Will it ever learn? (Check out our UI design guide for tips on how to create a non-baffling user experience.)

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Developer Alexander Puzzi tweeted (above) a screenshot of the feature, which he told TechCrunch he discovered while exploring Instagram's backend code. The splash screen for the prototype feature tells users they can now "swipe up and down  to browse stories".

We're beginning to wonder: is Instagram okay? Even its CEO, Adam Mosseri, admitted last month that its video offering is ultra-confusing, juggling Stories, Reels, IGTV and the standard feed. Not only that, but users have complained that many features feel directly lifted from the competition (with IGTV resembling YouTube and Reels channelling TikTok) – and that Instagram is starting to feel like a confusing hotchpotch of other platforms.

Mosseri said the company would be focussing on simplifying and consolidating its video offering. But while we assumed that meant creating a stronger, simpler and more unified Instagram video brand, it seems it actually meant making Instagram look even more like TikTok. 

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With the sheer amount of design changes going on, it's starting to feel like Instagram is going through quite the identity crisis. Just weeks ago it revealed a major homescreen redesign, placing new Reels and Shopping tabs front-and-centre. Back then, we said that shoving the TikTok-inspired Reels in front users' felt a little desperate – and the TikTok-ification of Stories feels pretty much the same.

Still, as TechCrunch points out, this feature is just a prototype, and may not be headed to the public version of the app any time soon. But with the rate at which Instagram has been tinkering its design lately, we wouldn't be surprised to see more TikTok-inspired touches creep in over the coming months. One thing's for sure: the social media landscape is busier and more confusing than ever right now – but don't worry, our guide to the top social media platforms for creatives has you covered. 

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.