Instagram’s next feature should be VR focussed

Instagram; the social networking site built upon photographs of pets and food.

Every now and then, a new feature will pop up. Whether it be Stories, Carousel, or even moving away from 1:1 pictures and into long form vertical video with IGTV.

But there’s one feature not yet taken up, that I am keen to see adopted; the ability to share in 360°.

I have a 360° camera, and I love to take photos with it. However when I come to share these photos on Instagram, I have to result to workarounds. And as pretty as the results can be, these workarounds, aren’t always the best way to show off the scene.

During the winter I took my camera out into the snow, and photographed a beautifully desolate snowy scene. I had hidden myself out of shot, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. The resulting photo was incredible. In another photo, I was crouched near to the camera – again, surrounded by an impressive snowy scene.

So when it came to sharing, I made two versions.

The first, using Theta’s editing app, was a simple little planet picture. It put my snowy scene into a world of its own, literally. The photo is cool to look at, but that wasn’t my aim. I wanted to transport you into this snowy scene, not just to show you an unusually different photograph of it.

The second version was to turn the image into a panoramic – essentially cropping the top and bottom quarters so that the image was in a 3:1 ratio, and then cutting the photo into three 1:1 images. Using Instagram’s carousel feature, you then share the three squares repeatedly until all 10 frames are filled. This gives the scroller the option to swipe through the photos in a similar way to sliding your way across a panoramic.

And the way it repeats every three frames is similar to how you’d watch more natural VR, swiping left and right – as well as up and down.

But it just doesn’t have the same experience.

Aside from not giving total control, the way carousel posts are highlighted is also a problem: Instagram uses little icons to indicate whether a post is a video, or carousel. So accompanying the ability to add 360° content should be a new icon, drawing attention to the fact the post is interactive in a whole new way – just like on Facebook.

And that brings me nicely to this next point.

Why hasn’t Instagram already created such feature? The platform is owned by Facebook, which was one of the first social giants to adopt 360° content. Facebook has gone as far as allow users to live stream 360° video in live video. So given this connection, I don’t see why it would be so difficult for Instagram to adopt 360°.

Perhaps if they did it would reduce the number of warped and tacky 360° animations. Yes, I have a serious disliking to them.

This post was updated on February 23rd 2020 because, well, Instagram still needs to introduce support for 360° media.