Instagram, today, announced that the platform is rolling out a redesigned home-screen, bringing Reels and Shops to the center of attention.
Both Reels and Shop now have dedicated tabs, which can be accessed right from the home-screen. The Reels button now replaces the Compose button which was at the center of the bottom bar, and Shop button replaces the Activity button, which was right next to the Compose button.
Reels are short-length videos, and this creative video feature is Instagram’s attempt at taking on TikTok. The feature first started rolling out globally in August. During this time TikTok was banned in India over national security concerns and its future was uncertain in the U.S for similar reasons.
Before this update, Reels showed up in the Discover tab, which also contained regular posts and stories. Now Reels has its own dedicated tab, which opens up a single reel at a time which can be changed by swiping up and down, similar to how TikTok works. The company has been experimenting with its home-screen layout from a few months and it is interesting to note that this dedicated Reels tab was available in India since Sep, which had taken the Search button’s place.
The next big addition is the Shop tab, which has been under testing from a few months. It allows the users to do online shopping directly from the app. Instagram has cleverly timed its release during the on-going pandemic which has forced offline business to shift online and has led to a great increase in e-commerce sales.
“With the Shop tab, we’re making it easy to get inspired by creators you love, shop on Instagram, and support small businesses,” wrote Instagram, in the blog post. “You can find personalized recommendations, editors’ picks curated by our @shop channel, shoppable videos, new product collections, and more.”
The Compose and Activity buttons have been moved to the top right corner of the screen, and are placed right next to the Messenger button. This move shows just how much Instagram wants its users to adapt and use its Reels feature, which hasn’t really caught up to its rival TikTok which has about 800 million monthly active users globally.
The button placements might not appear to be significant at first, but they play a huge role in how users notice new features and how they interact with the app. But how this move plays out for Instagram is yet to be seen.