Instagram has secretly begun testing a horizontal feed for some users, a vast sloping change from the vertically scrolling user experience that’s been the standard since the app launched.
The company had been testing the feature back in October in the Explore part of the app, but it seems that it’s rolling it out more widely to people’s main feeds today.
The new feed primarily turns all posts into a single, large Instagram story, complete with tapping to advance and a scrolling bar at the top of the screen to show you how far you’ve gone. It’s a huge change for Instagram’s community, which has grown conventional to the old feed. With the horizontal feed, each picture is given the spotlight at any given time — you can just observe a single post, and the comments are much more apparent now, appearing with a flick upward.
It’s also much harder to immediately fly through your feed with the new layout: you can only advance one post at a time. Another side effect of the new design is that stories are more accessible, with the bar now always available by swiping down, instead of needing to scroll all the way to the top of your feed. The new horizontal layout seems only to change the main feed — tap into a user’s profile, and things will appear as they always have in general, vertically scrolling style.
Instagram head, Adam Mosseri commented on Twitter that the new horizontal feed was meant to be “a little test” that “went broader than we anticipated.” But a Facebook spokesperson opposed that in a statement to The Verge: “Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.”
Only a few minutes after the horizontal feed, the old vertical feed seems to have appeared for most of the users that had been seeing the horizontal feed test. But even if this update was an accident, it seems like Instagram is taking the horizontal feed seriously — and it may not be long before it rolls out to all users for good.