In August 2016, the Facebook-owned photo and video sharing app Instagram launched Instagram Stories, enabling users to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. And there was no denying it: The feature was copied from Snapchat’s very own Stories. But lo and behold, Instagram Stories proved so popular that just five months after its introduction, it had reached as many as 150 million users. And now, three months later, Instagram Stories’ user base has jumped to 200 million.
Over 200 million people now use Instagram Stories every day to keep up with friends and accounts they love.- Instagram
That number is impressive in itself, but it’s all the more significant for its being higher than the number of people who use Snapchat: 158 million. And to clarify, that latter number, which took Snapchat five years to reach, refers to users not just of Snapchat Stories but of any aspect of Snapchat.
In other words, Instagram Stories alone is now more popular than all of Snapchat, the very app from which the ephemeral photo and video sharing feature — as well as Facebook’s similar features in its own apps — was cloned. Oh snap indeed.
And as if in celebration of this milestone, Instagram is launching several new features for Instagram Stories, most of which are focused on stickers.
Yo Dawg, Instagram heard you like selfies, so it has put selfies in your selfies. Selfie stickers, to be exact.
When creating a photo or video to add to your Instagram Story, you can now add stickers that feature your selfies. Just tap the smiley face, tap the new sticker with a camera icon, and capture a mini selfie for your selfie sticker.
Before or after capturing a mini selfie, you can tap to apply a fade or circle frame style to your selfie sticker. After creating it, you can drag to put your selfie sticker anywhere on the photo or video (which, for the record, may or may not be a selfie) and pinch to resize it.
Oh, and you can create and use more than one selfie sticker in a photo or video for Instagram Stories.
You can now also pin stickers to a fixed spot in your video. After taking a video to be added to your Story, just add a sticker (selfie or otherwise) and then tap it and hold. A slider bar will then appear at the bottom of the screen for you to swipe to scroll through the video and find where you want to pin the sticker. Then, drag the sticker to where you want it to be pinned. Finally, tap Pin.
You can also pin text, by the way, and you can even pin multiple items in the same video.
As the video plays, thanks to some motion-tracking magic, you can see the stickers and text move along with the spot to which they are pinned, as though they were physically stuck to it.
Instagram Stories has also gained new “geostickers,” or stickers that can be used only in specific locations, for four more cities. If you’re in Chicago, London, Madrid, or Tokyo, you’ll start seeing geostickers for your city.
These stickers are designed by local artists, and you can tap a geosticker to see the username of the artist behind it and check out their profile.
There’s now also a separate section in the sticker menu dedicated to your favorite stickers. Just tap the smiley face when adding a photo or video to your story, and then swipe right to see your recently used stickers.
When shooting a video in Hands-Free mode, you can now tap and hold the record button to initiate a timer that counts down to when the video recording starts. This could come in “handy” when you need to move a good distance in front of your device so your entire body can be seen in your video while you’re, say, showing off some cool dance steps.
I’ll be the first to admit that before Instagram Stories, I had little or no idea what Snapchat Stories were. I never got into Snapchat, but I had been regularly sharing photos on Instagram. And so when Instagram Stories came along, I just had to try it, especially since Instagram gave Stories top billing in its app’s Home feed and Explore section.
And I have to say that its lighthearted, devil-may-care approach for sharing just about any kind of moment got me all but instantly hooked. And with the fun and easy-to-use enhancements it keeps getting updated with (including these new ones), not to mention the apparently new way of accessing Stories by tapping the profile pictures of users in the Home feed, Instagram Stories is likely to become even more popular.