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Instagram Wants You To Give It A Pinch

Pinch away, people!

Yes, Instagram is finally inviting users zoom in on photos and video in the feeds with a single pinch.

“Zoom is one of the most requested features from the community, and it's finally here,” a company spokeswoman tells me. 

From a new icon to longer videos to the launch of Stories, Instagram has recently been on something of a self-improvement binge. That’s out of character for the Facebook unit, which has historically erred on the side of simplicity.

What explains the shift? Well, while still growing a respectable clip, Instagram is clearly losing ground to Snapchat. Indeed, the social sensation recently surpassed Instagram as the top social destination among teens, according to findings from Piper Jaffray.

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“Social networks are chasing the same eyeballs, and they're all borrowing/revamping capabilities to provide similar experiences for existing users while trying to capitalize on relevance to attract new users,” Erna Alfred Liousas, an analyst with Forrester Research, told me recently.

Yet, while “Instagram will certainly learn quite a bit with their new feature … Snapchat users are on Snapchat for the totality of their experience, not just one component of it,” Liousas added.

Like Snapchat Stories, Instagram’s new feature encourages users to type text and draw on their picture before they are shared.

On the receiving end, users can now expect to see stories from people they follow in a bar at the top of their feeds. When there’s something new to see, their profile photo will have a colorful ring around it. To view someone’s story, users need only tap on that person's profile photo.

Despite the rise of Snapchat, Instagram continues to post impressive usership figures. The Facebook unit’s monthly user base more than doubled over the past two years, and it added its last 100 million active users faster than the previous 100 million.

On average, Instagram now sees about 95 million photos and videos shared per day, and about 4.2 billion” likes” per day.

But Snapchat’s success shows no signs of slowing. As of June, it reportedly boasted 150 million daily active users.

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