Given the app's changing usage trends, it's been in the cards for a while. And now, it appears to be a step closer to reality, with Instagram developing a new, fully-integrated home feed that would eliminate the top Stories bar in favor of an immersive, full-screen, swipeable UI.
The experimental Instagram feed would incorporate standard Feed posts, Stories, and Reels all within a single flow, as shown in this sample uploaded by app researcher Alessando Paluzzi.
Stories would feature a frame bar at the bottom of the screen, suggesting that you can swipe left to see the next frame, whereas videos would have a progress bar. It's a more obvious and logical approach to presenting Instagram material, and it fits perfectly with TikTok expanding usage trends. In contrast to the existing system, which presents things in varied ways and frequently puts more than one item on screen at a time, the change would allow algorithmic enhancements based on your response to every single post.
This is where TikTok has been able to acquire the most edge. Because all TikTok videos are broadcast one at a time in full-screen mode, everything you do while viewing that post can be utilized to gauge your reaction to that particular piece of content. Every response is specific to that video, whether you tap 'Like' on a clip, watch it all the way through, let it play twice, or swipe back to it again. This gives TikTok an advantage in determining the specific elements of interest in each clip, which can then align with your profile to improve your feed recommendations. That's why TikTok's feed is so addictive - and while Instagram Reels are displayed similarly, Instagram hasn't yet cracked the algorithm as well as TikTok, fueling their more immersive, addictive 'For You' content stream.
This new presenting style may be able to help change that, and it would be a significant step toward aligning with the broader TikTok movement, which shows no signs of slowing down. It's only natural, considering that Reels is now Instagram's top contributor to engagement growth, and users spend more time on Stories than on their main page.
It's vital to realize that this hasn't started yet. At the moment, this is a back-end prototype that may or may not see the light of day. But it most likely will, and given its current state of development (as seen here), I'd expect to see it soon, providing users a whole new way to interact with Instagram's many content forms while also fitting with the platform's declared push for video content. Indeed, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri stated in December that video would be a major emphasis for the company in 2022.
“We’re going to double-down on our focus on video and consolidate all of our video formats around Reels”
This appears to be the final step on this front, as well as another repositioning in its battle with TikTok, to counter TikTok's growing domination in space.