Instagram's one of the fastest growing social networks in the world right now, going from 200 million users in May 2014 to 400 million only 16 months later. In fact, back when Facebook paid $1 billion for the platform back in 2012, the app only had around 30 million users, prompting many to question what Zuck and Co. saw in the image-based network. Evidently, they picked up on something others missed (as they did with Snapchat, which Facebook also attempted to purchase).
But through it all, the one constant that's remained with Instagram is its presentation.
For example, this is how Instagram looked in 2012:
And here's what the app looks like today:
While some relatively subtle design updates and improvements have been introduced over time, Instagram's been in no rush to introduce radical changes in an effort to stay in touch with the latest trends, which is an aspect that Facebook has opted not to push. But new reports suggest that the platform may be considering a new update which would significantly alter the aesthetic of the app.
As you can see, the normal blue and orange colors used in Instagram's framing and alerts are gone, toned into the background, which makes the photos themselves stand out. It's a pretty big change - here, for example is an image in the black and white system compared to a similar image from the same artist (@ryanmillier) as it looks on Instagram right now (the original image appears to be no longer available).
As you can see, the new style puts more focus on the detail by removing any other surrounding distractions - it even looks bigger, wider maybe, which must be a trick of the eye.
Instagram have confirmed that they're testing the alternate design, telling The Verge that the new presentation style is available to only a "small percentage of the global community". There's nothing to suggest that this is anywhere close to being rolled out more widely at this stage, but it's pretty good-looking - a more modern, scaled back design that, as noted, puts increased emphasis on the content, which can only be a good thing for creators.
While any change is met with kickback from regular users, this one could be seen as an improvement. I mean, maybe not straight away - there's all the 'death of Instagram' posts to get through as people move through the various stages of grief to cope with any such update. But after that, maybe people might see the benefits of such an upgrade.
Either way, it's an interesting test, and it shows that Instagram is considering new ways to update the refresh the app.