This story was originally published and last updated .
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.
If you're on the Android 11 Beta and watch videos from any major social platform, you might have seen the stream go haywire. Well, you should know that you're not alone — we've seen it with our own eyes across a couple different apps and reports across forums say they've been affected elsewhere, too. And there's some good news at the end of this mess.
Peer-to-peer media sharing apps have gone through all of their growth phases — from Snapchat opening people up to private pics to competition with Instagram through to the commoditization of the dreaded Stories format — that we figure it's about time things came full circle. And from none other than Facebook comes Threads, a private sharing app that enables you to quickly send snaps to your Close Friends on Instagram.
It turns out even with a shrunken user base and diminished investor enthusiasm — SNAP shares are down by more than a third since their NYSE debut in March 2017 — that Snap, Inc. still wants to carve a place for itself in the social media ecosystem. It's tried to do so by making actual camera hardware in the form of sunglasses with cameras that stream to users' Snapchat accounts. Today, the company is incorporating two cameras to its third iteration to its Spectacles.
Snapchat's fortunes may be turning around. Okay, so the glasses idea was a bust, and the company's stock has spent the last year below even the IPO price, but we millenials are really into making ourselves look like terrifying dog-human chimeras, for some reason, and we've driven the app to over a billion installs on the Play Store. (Though the platform's ubiquitous use among adult models may also explain the rising popularity.)
As Google has culled its consumer-facing messaging options to focus on primarily Messages, it's unsurprising that the app has continued to pick up new features. Some, like RCS support, are pretty universally useful. Others are more for fun — like these in-development Snapchat-style video filters XDA Developers has uncovered.
Facebook is trialing a way to personalize the engagement its users can have with the content on its platform. Avatars are currently being tested in Australia as a Bitmoji-like addition to standard reactions and generated GIFs. A global roll-out is reportedly targeted for later this year at the earliest, but there are questions about how big of a draw this feature will be for existing users as well as departed users that may want to make a return.
One of the ways Snapchat is trying to spruce up engagement on its stagnant social platform is through Snap Games, a series of multiplayer games that users can play with their friends and/or with strangers across the network. Three of them have been rolled out to users and are available to play today.
In order to fiercely compete with Snapchat, Facebook launched Stories on almost all its messaging platforms, beginning with Instagram. The feature was so popular it succeeded in dethroning its rival, which encouraged the company to release a standalone messaging app called Direct. Although the new software brought some extra features like exclusive filters, Instagram has decided to merge all functionalities into its main application.
Snapchat never loved Android, although the company behind the social network promised to fix its slow and buggy app a long time ago. It even started rolling out a completely rewritten and supposedly better version this year, but many users still complain about the subpar quality compared to the experience on iOS. Now, we've come across a hilarious new bug in the app. People using phones with display cutouts on the top right, like the Samsung Galaxy S10+, can't properly end video calls since the "end call" button sits right behind the lost part of the screen.