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Google is featuring Instagram and TikTok 'Short videos' in mobile search results

Google is featuring Instagram and TikTok 'Short videos' in mobile search results

I think it's safe to say that short-form video content reached the pinnacle of popularity this year. Seeing TikTok's wild success, competing platforms such as YouTube and Instagram were quick to jump on the bandwagon with Shorts and Reels, respectively. It seems like even Google doesn't want to miss out on getting a piece of the pie as the search giant is expanding its carousel of short videos in mobile search results to include content from more sources.

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7

Facebook disables some Instagram and Messenger features in Europe

Facebook disables some Instagram and Messenger features in Europe

As noted by several users on social media and verified by our own Manuel Vonau in Germany, Facebook is temporarily disabling some features for Messenger and Instagram users who are based in the European region. The development has been revealed via in-app alerts which attribute "new rules for messaging services" as the cause for the change.

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38

Instagram's integrated Messenger gains vanish mode, chat themes, and Watch Together

Instagram's integrated Messenger gains vanish mode, chat themes, and Watch Together

Facebook promised that it would make messaging easier across all of its apps last year, and we've already seen evidence that the company was working on integrating Facebook Messenger with Instagram. The company made that move official at the end of September, introducing what it's calling a new Messenger experience on Instagram. And now, Instagram is adding a few more of the features initially promised, like Watch Together, chat themes, and vanish mode.

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12

Instagram revamps its bottom bar, putting Reels and Shop front and center

Instagram revamps its bottom bar, putting Reels and Shop front and center

After successfully cloning Snapchat's Stories, Instagram is pushing hard to break into the next market. Not too long ago, it introduced its TikTok copy Reels, which is currently rolling out to users worldwide. To put the new format front and center, Instagram has formally announced that it will now get a fixed place in the bottom bar along with a new Shop section.

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8

Instagram and Messenger jump on the ephemeral chat bandwagon with Vanish Mode

Instagram and Messenger jump on the ephemeral chat bandwagon with Vanish Mode

Everyone wants to disappear sometimes — or at the very least, make some embarrassing comment of theirs disappear. Facebook is making that a bit easier by borrowing a feature from Snapchat that makes it possible to send messages that don't stick around. The new "vanish mode" for Messenger and Instagram promises to make messaging a more "spontaneous" experience, and it's starting to roll out now.

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4

Instagram is rolling out app shortcuts, only a full year after we first spotted them

Instagram is rolling out app shortcuts, only a full year after we first spotted them

Android has supported app shortcuts since 2016, but some popular apps still haven't implemented the feature yet. We found evidence that Instagram was about to change that in October 2019, though it took the company until now to finally roll out shortcuts widely. Most people should now be able to tap and hold the Instagram icon on their home screen to quickly access the camera, create a new post, view their activity, and open direct messages. Additionally, Instagram has quietly reworked the Stories archive, which is now organized in three sections.

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12

Facebook Messenger attempts to keep things fresh with new logo and smattering of features

Facebook Messenger attempts to keep things fresh with new logo and smattering of features

Facebook has been working on unifying Instagram's messaging system with its own Facebook Messenger app since earlier this summer, and now the company is announcing a refreshed look for Messenger complete with new chat themes, custom reactions, and a more colorful logo.

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28

The Instagram app is rolling out Reels navigation button to all, starting with India

The Instagram app is rolling out Reels navigation button to all, starting with India

TikTok facing bans in two of its most prominent markets is only putting pressure on competitors to step up and fill that gap. Instagram jumped at the chance and quickly expanded its own TikTok clone, Reels, to international markets. The feature currently lives inside the Explore tab, but the photo-sharing app doesn't want things to stop there. Instagram is now trying to push users towards Reels even more by giving it a prominent position on the home screen.

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26

Facebook starts integrating Messenger with Instagram

Facebook starts integrating Messenger with Instagram

Early last year, Facebook promised that it would create a unified backend for all of its messaging platforms. Messenger, Instagram direct messages, and WhatsApp are all supposed to be interoperable, so you wouldn't have to worry about which Facebook app to use with which of your contacts. It looks like the company is getting ready to make these cross-platform chats a reality, as it has started distributing a popup on Instagram that advertises a Messenger integration.

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34

Instagram Reels officially goes global to face off against TikTok

Instagram Reels officially goes global to face off against TikTok

Instagram, and then all of Facebook, famously and shamelessly copied the feature that made Snapchat stand out of the crowd: Stories. Now, Instagram is turning its attention toward the latest hot social media platform, TikTok, and has released its own take on it called Reels. The feature, which has been in testing since at least November and seeded to Brazil, is now available globally.

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