In the past, the differences between Snapchat and Instagram, two of the biggest social media apps of our generation, could be summed like so: Instagram is for showcasing your pretty, edited imagery, and Snapchat is for those quick, messy, spur-of-the-moment photos. But that is about to change.
Today, Instagram unveiled Instagram Stories, a slideshow of multiple videos and photos that you share throughout the day. Like Snapchat, you can draw on these photos and add text — the only thing that's missing are Snapchat's beloved geofilters. Other peoples' stories will show up in a bar along the top of your feed, or you can click on someone's profile photo to see their story. When someone adds something new to their story, a colored ring will show up around their profile photo so you'll know to check it out.
Now, you obviously wouldn't want these story photos messing with your perfect, Pinterest-worthy Instagram grid. Well, don't worry. Also like Snapchat, the videos and photos added to your Instagram story will have a 24-hour life-span.
Another major similarity to Snapchat: You can send someone a direct message about their Instagram story, but you won't be able to Like or comment on it.
On the one hand, this feels like a natural evolution of Instagram. After all, Snapchat has shown that we want to post more spontaneously and see posts from our favorite celebs that haven't been heavily posed and filtered.
But what will happen to the Instagram that we know and love? The one that has turned macaron-posting influencers into millionaires and made amateur photographers Insta-famous?
That part of the app shouldn't go anywhere. But, it will be interesting to see if more users flock to Instagram for live, instant stories and leave Snapchat in the dust. Or, if like some of Instagram's other features (such as direct messaging), Stories ends up being forgotten and ignored in a few months' time.
Want to take "snapchatting" in Instagram for a spin? The stories feature is available to select celebrities and influencers starting today (including Serena Williams and Demi Lovato), and rolling out to the rest of us over the coming weeks.