Instagram and Snapchat aren't just two of the most popular social media or photo sharing apps in the world. They're two of the most popular apps, full stop. But do we really need them to be exactly like each other?
That's no longer a hypothetical question after the latest update hit Instagram this week. It introduced Instagram Stories, which stay on your phone or tablet for 24 hours then disappear. You can also draw on the videos or images and use text, plus control who gets to see them.
If that sounds familiar, it's because Snapchat has a similar feature ... which is also called Stories. And of course, Snapchat has always been in the business of disappearing images and video. The ironic part is that Snapchat Stories stuck around longer than normal snaps, while Instagram Stories are less permanent than normal Instagram posts.
So what else do you need to know about "the new place to share everyday moments?" Well ...
Athletes have discovered it's an easier way to slide into someone's DMs
It's true. Many pro athletes like the private messaging aspects of social media apps for their discretion. Instagram Stories makes it easier to have a direct, private conversation with another user by simply tapping one button while watching one of that user's Stories. Simple.
The ring is the thing
Instagram Stories will appear at the top of your in-app feed, and you'll know it because the ring around a user's icon will glow or show off colors in some way. Conveniently, Instagram itself demonstrates this with its official account the first time you log in after the most recent update, so even if you haven't used the app in a while, you should be able to catch up fast.
Tap to add
After you take a photo or video, you can tap the button at the bottom of the screen with the up arrow icon to add it to your Story. Like accounts you follow, your story will now appear at the top of your feed ... so you remember you have one active, one supposes.
Tapping on it allows you to access anything you have saved to your Story, where you can crop or trash whatever you like. Tapping on the gear icon in the upper-left corner brings up a settings menu. Here you can choose to hide Stories from certain people and decide who can message you in reply to your Story.
Instagram Stories certainly have people talking, though whether it's for better or worse remains to be seen. One thing is for certain: Anyone who had trouble distinguishing between Instagram and Snapchat before is simply going to be more confused going forward, especially if someone starts talking about their Stories.