It's difficult to downplay the impact of the Stories shift in social media. Already, across Facebook's family of apps alone, more than a billion people use the Stories format every day, and that's not counting those using the same on Snapchat, nor the new, similar features now available on LinkedIn and YouTube.
Facebook's executive team has repeatedly noted that Stories are the future of social sharing. And now, we may even see the format take over the past - take a look at this:
New Instagram UI to view posts on your feed: presenting "Cards", for iOS and Android!— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) December 3, 2018
In this new UI, the Profile and Direct tabs will be inverted!
The new changes will be available in future. pic.twitter.com/RVDNuuLvTk
According to WABetaInfo, Instagram is testing a new, side-scrolling format for regular feed viewing. Which is very similar to Stories.
The option seems to further align with the growing popularity of the Stories layout - there's not a lot to go on at this stage, but the side-swiping process could be optional, enabling users to either stick with what they know and love, or move to an Instagram fully aligned with the horizontal option.
That's a significant shift for the app, and one that likely wouldn't have happened had Instagram's founders still been around to oversee it - both Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left Facebook back in September, citing differences of opinion about the way forward for the app. Most of those discussions reportedly centered around monetization, but Instagram's founders were also closely aligned with the app's roots, with how it had built community by focusing on its core mission - to highlight and share great images.
The shift to video changed that, then the shift to Stories, and this would be another significant step away from the app's original process. Is that a good thing? It's hard to say - Facebook is likely working to cater to evolving user behaviors, and given the rise in Instagram Stories usage, it makes sense that people might like to have an option to apply that same approach across all aspects. But is it moving too far from what it once was? And does that matter to users?
As noted, there's not a lot of info to go on at this stage, but we'll keep you updated on any announcements and tests as we know more.