Written by Javern Chua, Tricia Lee, and You Quan Fu.

Instagram expands its short-form video format ‘Reels’ to more markets

Instagram is expanding Reels into more markets after making important changes to its implementation. Previously an Instagram Stories only feature, Reels now possess a dedicated space on the user’s profile and can be found under Explore. This provides the community with a more permanent and accessible way to share Reels with their followers. Importantly, this change makes Reels a “destination in the app”, a distinct feature on Instagram that people visit.

The expansion of Reels does not come as a surprise after TikTok’s surge in popularity. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, previously launched Lasso, a standalone app dedicated to short-form videos to compete with TikTok. However, with the development of Reels, Facebook is shutting down Lasso after it “failed to gain significant traction”.

Whether Reels’ can accomplish what Lasso initially was set up for and whether it can compete with TikTok is still up to be seen. However, as Techcrunch noted, Instagram has an “existing base of creators” who is already familiar with its UI and tools that Reels can capitalize on. If Instagram can successfully launch Reels in the global market, TikTok may face competition in a market that they are currently dominating in.

Reels is currently available in Brazil, Germany, and France. Instagram is reportedly testing Reels in India after TikTok received a ban by the Indian Government.

Instagram’s Latest Test Features a Full-Screen Story Format

Instagram has confirmed the testing of a new layout that might allow us to say goodbye to the endless scrolling just to find a specific story. 

A few months back, they were reportedly testing a stacked stories feed so users could view twice the number of followers stories at a glance, however, in their latest update they have confirmed tests on an astounding full-screen story display too.

As confirmed by Instagram on TechCrunch, this new layout is currently being tested with a small group of users. These users will get a prompt underneath their stories tab to ‘See all stories’, after being tapped on, the list expands into a full-screen grid display for the users to interact with. 

With how well the story format has done across multiple platforms, it’s no surprise that Instagram is exploring ways to enhance the user experience of this feature. Though this is a rather unexpected layout for Instagram to explore as many users are accustomed to the current mechanics of the feature, if the tests are well received this could be the norm for many of us moving forward. 

On a related note, their parent company, Facebook, was also noticed testing a similar ‘all stories’ display too.

Snapchat shifting up a gear on Shoppable AR

Snapchat is ramping up their e-commerce solutions to provide Snapchatters a better “digital try-on” experience. Snapchat is aiming the platform to be a place for buying, just like other platforms doing e-commerce.

“What makes [AR] so compelling is this ability to bridge the online and offline world, and compensate for experiences that you may normally only get in-store,” says Kathleen Gambarelli, group product marketing manager at Snap Inc.

And with the COVID-19 lockdowns still ongoing, and with more people looking to buy online more often, reaching your audience through digital means is the right way to go.

They also partnered with Wannaby, a developer that worked with Gucci on a similar mechanic, to introduce a new augmented reality feature that maps the user's feet to allow them to try on shoes. With Snapchat’s shoppable AR, users are also able to purchase them through this process too. 

Shoppable AR will be available to Snapchatters in the UK, US, France, Italy, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Japan. 

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Disclaimer: Featured image taken from Later.