Are you ready for the next stage of the Stories takeover in your Instagram app?
Back in May, we reported that Instagram was testing a new double-story Stories feed with some users. Now, Instagram has confirmed that it's also testing this somewhat intimidating full-screen Stories display:
As you can see in these screenshots, posted by Adweek marketing and social media manager Julian Gamboa, some users are now seeing a prompt below their double-story Stories display to 'See all stories'. When tapped, the Stories display then expands to full screen (depending on how many Stories you're eligible to view), creating a Connect 4-style display grid of tappable Stories.
Instagram has confirmed the test to TechCrunch, noting that it's currently being tested with a small number of users.
Instagram's actually had this in testing for some time - back in April, reverse engineering analyst Jane Manchun Wong spotted the code for a full-screen Stories display in the app.
abusing Instagram’s potential multi-row Stories redesign lmao pic.twitter.com/eAUYRzbnRi— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 4, 2020
As Wong notes in her tweet, this full-screen display was a result of manipulating the existing code, and I honestly thought this was a joke, and that Instagram would never actually do this. Seems I was wrong, and Instagram is indeed so focused on Stories that it's willing to create a full-screen, all-encompassing Stories display.
Really, the new test points to the likely future of Instagram, which will be one where the app opens to a full-screen Stories display, like TikTok does with its video clips, in order to align with increasing Stories use.
With more people using Stories, at some point, it seems likely that Instagram will look to switch the main focus of the app from the traditional post feed to a Stories feed, with the 'classic' Insta stream shifted another tab. That, of course, would be a significant change, but as parent company Facebook has repeatedly noted, Stories are on track to overtake the news feed as the primary surface for social media engagement, if they haven't already.
It makes sense for Instagram to evolve in line with user behavior.
It doesn't, however, seem likely that this full-screen display of Stories bubbles is the best way to present Stories. If more people are using Stories more often, opening to the first Story seems like a better way to go. And with people already become more accustomed to this type of presentation through TikTok, which continues to see increased usage, it would be little surprise to see Instagram make this change at some stage in future.
The likelihood of that happening will at least somewhat depend on how users in this test respond to both the double-decker and full-screen Stories displays. If people in the test pool end up using Stories more, and coming back more often, you can bet that Instagram will look to push the concept further, and as it seeks to fend off competition from TikTok, replicating that app's UI, and matching user preference, seems like a logical progression.
NOTE: Facebook is also testing an 'all Stories' display option.