The reel issue with Instagram

The questionable update that drags the app down


Jonathan Jimenez

Instagram is a popular social media platform, so it’s important that consumers know how the app performs. Reviews left on Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store will affect one’s choice regarding whether they get the app or not.

Jonathan Jimenez, Staff Reporter

As the new decade debuts, social media is still a key part of countless people’s lives. Users log on to a social media website or app every day, posting images of themselves to share with their followers. Among these sites is Instagram. It attracts millions of users daily, and many influential people are active on the platform.

Instagram was acquired by Facebook for one billion dollars in 2012. In the many updates that have come since, features like Stories and Reels have been added to the app. The Stories update, released in 2016, creates a post that stays up for a day and then deletes itself, identical to how Snapchat’s Stories work. Recently on August 5, Reels were added. They’re similar to TikTok, where you’re able to post and share short videos.

The user interface, or UI for short, is my favorite part about Instagram. It’s been renovated numerous times since the app’s inception. It hasn’t changed too much since 2016, but I’d say that’s a positive thing because as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The current UI’s design is modern and easy to navigate with the different pages clearly displayed on the bottom of the screen, those pages being the feed, explore page, upload page, the activity page and the profile. In addition to its navigable construction, users are given the choice to display the screen in light mode or dark mode. Dark mode was implemented into Instagram last year, which I consider to be one of the greatest attributes of the app. I personally use dark mode over light mode because it eases strain on the eyes that the bright, white light of light mode emits. Dark mode colors your screen in shades of gray and black.

I’d say Instagram’s UI performs well and looks sleek. It’s simplistic design and placement of page buttons give the app a clean appearance. I don’t think the UI needs any further updating. However, one of the latest updates introduced a feature that I didn’t like: Reels.

As I mentioned earlier, Reels are similar to TikTok. In Reels you can post a 15 second video of virtually anything, but I believe this is an unnecessary addition to the app. It’s ironic because in the early days of Instagram, if you wanted to post a video, it could only go up to 15 seconds. That later changed to allow a minute’s worth of time. Years later, IGTV was implemented into Instagram, an update allowing you to upload videos 15 minutes long from a mobile device, and 60 minutes long from a computer. The developers could have just opted for longer videos, but they added more unnecessary features to stand out.

Reels was only added to compete with TikTok, and I believe adding it to Instagram doesn’t give any advantage in the competition. There are now three different methods of posting videos to Instagram, which to me seems like overkill. I see it as more work for the developers when patching any potential glitches in the system for three features that do basically the same thing.

Unlike Reels, Stories is a feature copied from another platform that’s a positive addition to Instagram. The idea for Stories originally came from Snapchat, where you can post a picture or video that stays up for a day and then deletes itself. Instagram took this idea and made it better with their version of it. With Instagram, there are built-in options to post a timed poll or Q&A to your story. All of your followers can interact with these and you can see the results. This brings a fun twist to Instagram Stories that Snapchat doesn’t have. You’re also given the ability to upload music from a large library in the app. The title and artist of the track are displayed on the screen as well. This might seem pretty minor, but it’s incredibly useful when you hear a song you like and are determined to find it for yourself.

Stories are customizable in a way that I’d say gives it a lead in the competition against Snapchat. The features it offers are unique and spice up the app, making it a more advanced platform.

Instagram has its ups and downs, but ultimately when I use it for the things I look for, it does a satisfactory job. The UI is easily navigable so I can see posts from accounts that I follow. Although I have sour feelings about the Reels update, whether I use it or not is optional. Instagram is one of my go-to social media platforms, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.