Since Instagram launched its Snapchat-inspired Stories feature, it has seen a pretty big adoption rate and now has a large daily user base. When launched, many users accused Instagram of blatantly copying Snapchat, while many considered the feature to be inferior to Snapchat. Over time though, it's clear the feature has begun winning over users and is starting to mark out its own identity which differentiates itself from Snapchat. As part of this, today Instagram is adding three big new features to Stories in the form of links, Mentions and Boomerang support.
Regarding the links, at least for now, this feature appears to be exclusive to verified users. The reason for including the feature in the update is due to the fact that many companies use Stories to market their products or services and often redirect users to the link place in their profile bio, so Instagram users can get more information. Now, though, companies will be able to add links to Instagram Stories, allowing users to simply swipe up on a Story post in order to visit the provided link through Instagram's built in browser. Aside from links, one other feature included in the update, which is actually available to all users, is the ability to mention individual users in Story snaps. As with any mention, users can simply type in @ to mention the users they want to, regardless of if they are actually in the snap or not. Once mentioned, the username will appear underlined, therefore allowing any user to click on the username and either preview their profile by tapping once, while two taps will take you directly to their profile. Regarding the third and final feature, Boomerang support, this is certainly a feature that will make Instagram Stories stand out. Until now, when users wanted to post something to their Story, they had the choice of either a quick snap or a short video. With the new Boomerang support, the short looping videos appear as a separate option, without needing to install the standalone app. Slight differences when compared to the standalone app are the ability to zoom and the ability to switch between the front and back camera while recording the Boomerang.
The addition of these features to Stories show how serious Instagram is about becoming the center of social media and, as well as this, the inclusion of Boomerang inside Instagram Stories may eventually remove the need for a standalone Boomerang app, due to the fact that many users will likely opt for using the built in Stories feature instead of downloading a separate app. With Snapchat copying a few of Instagram Stories features in its latest update, its clear the company is starting to notice the heated competition from Instagram, so it'll remain to be seen which of the two will eventually come out on top.