Instagram's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kevin Systrom, has confirmed via his Twitter account that the photo and video-sharing social networking service is working on a new feature that will let users know the length of time they spend using the app. The upcoming feature was first spotted via code hidden within Instagram's Android application package (APK), revealing a new functionality that will be called "Usage Insights."
It's not immediately clear, however, when the upcoming feature is rolling out to users. There's no word as well on whether it will be based on the total amount of spent time using the Instagram app or on shorter time frames that users invest in social networking activities such as sharing photos or commenting on other people's posts on the platform. Systrom says that Internet companies are responsible for upholding the transparency in terms of letting people know the amount of time they spend online, noting that it is important to understand how screen time affects the overall well-being of individuals. In fact, a recent study from Temple University suggests a direct connection between the use of social media and anxiety for users over the age of 30. Researchers examined data collected from a survey conducted in 2016 and the results indicate that millennials can more effectively cope with social media as they are more exposed to it while those more likely to express symptoms of anxiety had never been exposed to social media during their childhood.
In addition to the Usage Insights tool, Instagram is also reportedly prototyping a new commenting interface with an Emoji Bar that will allow users to add emoji comments with a single click as well as an @ button that will let users tag their friends more easily. The hidden codes were first discovered by app investigator Jane Manchun Wong, who also found code that indicates Instagram could be testing an upcoming feature on the app's Android version that will allow users to like or reply to a comment without exiting the notification panel, meaning they can perform actions on Instagram even without opening the app itself. It remains to be seen in the future how Instagram's upcoming time management tool can affect the way people use the service.