If you’re even a casual Refinery29 reader, you know that of all the tech tools we use on a daily basis, Instagram occupies a particularly dear place in our hearts (we love you, too, Pinterest!). That being said, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the platform since it was acquired by Facebook last April for a staggering $1 billion. We want to make sure our beloved Sutro-tinged images remain in good hands, after all. Until now, things have stayed pretty much the same, but as of today, Instagram is rolling out Instagram 3.0, and your everyday user experience is going to change whether you like it or not. We’ve got the info on the the new interface and today’s big announcement — Photo Maps — below.
Photo Maps allows geotagged Instagram photos to show up on a map in a user’s public profile. Once enabled, anyone can go to your profile, click on the Photo Map button, and see all the places you’ve been taking pictures. This is especially cool if you’re looking for images of specific events in unusual places that might otherwise be hard to find. For instance, if you went on a road-trip last year and geotagged your photos along the way, you’ll see a string of images as you traveled across the country.
For a platform that quickly pushes photos down your feed into digital oblivion, it’s great seeing them gain a permanent home on a virtual, zoom-able map of the world. And for those of you worried about privacy, photos must be individually approved by a user when added to the map. This is done on a case-by-case basis, and you can easily remove photos after they’ve been added.
Aside from Photo Maps, hashtag and location pages have been redesigned. It seems that Instagram is keen to know where you had that salmon benedict over the weekend, and if you tag your photo with a location or hashtag, it’s now easier to see photos taken at a certain place. This is a particularly big threat to Foursquare, as tagging a restaurant, bar, or park basically serves the same purpose as "checking in" (with the added benefit of a nifty picture).
User profiles have also received an update, and infinite scrolling has been added. Instead of having to continuously load photos when you get to the bottom of the page, you can keep going back in time for as long as you’d like. Also updated are social-sharing options: Posting photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and elsewhere is easier, and the social buttons are right there when you upload an image. The text box for captioning is also larger, so you won't forget to offer a witty caption with each image. (Instagram)
What do you think of the updates? Do you long for the simpler Instagram of yore, or do you like the idea of seeing all the places your friends have been snapping their pics? We need a little bit more time digest the new version, but right now we like the direction Instagram is heading. Tell us what you think of the new features in the comments below.