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Instagram Introduces New Editing Tools and Post Notifications

Instagram is making it easier to keep tabs on posts from friends, celebrities or other users you want to follow more closely. The app’s latest update adds the ability to subscribe to posts from specific users and introduces two new editing tools that allow you to adjust the color tones of your photos

The new editing tools, fade and color, appear in the app’s adjust menu and allow you to tweak the way colors look in your photo.

Fade softens all of the colors in your image “to bring a quiet tone,” Instagram says. The look is similar to certain filters already in the app but the fade tool seems to apply the effect in a more uniform way than filters, which focus more on particular parts of an image. Like other tools in the adjust menu, fade comes with a slider that allow you to control the strength of the effect.

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Instagram’s new “fade” tool. Image: Instagram

Color also plays with the color tones of an image by adding different tints to a photo’s shadows or highlights. Choose whether you want to focus on the darker parts of an image (shadows) or the lighter areas (highlights) and choose the tint. Yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, cyan and green are the colors currently available.

This effect doesn’t have a slider control but it can be more or less dramatic depending on the image — red or purple tints may be more noticeable on a lighter image than a darker one, for example.

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The new color tool adds different tints to your photo.

Finally, Tuesday’s update also adds the ability to subscribe to posts from users you follow. When viewing a friend’s profile, the “…” menu in the top right corner now has the option to “Turn on Post Notifications.” When enabled, Instagram will send push notifications each time the users you follow share a new post.

The latest update is rolling out to Android users Tuesday and to iOS “in a few days.” Post notifications are already available in both apps.


Instagram’s Layout app makes photo collages easy

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Collage lovers on Instagram, it might be your lucky day. Instagram is rolling out Layout, a free, standalone app that merges multiple images into one. It’s available on iOS now (on the App Store), and an Android version is expected in the next few months.

Users pick up to nine photos from their phone’s Camera Roll — whether they were snapped via Instagram doesn’t matter. The app organizes them in three sections: recent photos snapped, photos with people’s faces in them, and an area with all your shots. There’s also a “Photo Booth” feature, which employs the smartphone’s front-facing camera to snap four shots in quick succession.

Layout suggests up to 10 collage templates to choose from, depending on the number of selected photos, and lets folks tweak their work any number of ways, like dragging and dropping photos in the collage, pinch-to-zoom, and a sci-fi-like “mirror” effect that duplicates part of a shot. Afterwards, they can share their creations from inside the app to platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Flipboard, Slack and others. (Twitter integration is noticeably absent.)

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Users can pick up to nine images to make into a collage. Layout recommends up to 10 collage styles depending on the number of selected images.

Why collages? Look at the numbers. According to Instagram, one in five active users — at least 60 million people — already use third-party mobile apps like Diptic, Moldiv and Stitch to make collages. Simply put, a standalone collage app keeps users engaged with Instagram features and services for longer periods of time. It also lowers the odds of Instagram users checking out photo apps from competitors.

Layout is the second companion app from Instagram. Last fall, the company rolled out an app called Hyperlapse that lets users create image-stabilized, time lapse videos.

“We really wanted to keep the main Instagram flow simple, and adding a bunch of these features would probably make it more complicated,” Joshua Dickens, an Instagram product designer, told Mashable.

That’s likely true, but with its newest app, Instagram also takes a lesson from Facebook. Over the last two years, the social network has employed a portfolio approach with mobile. Instead of baking all of its new features into the main mobile app, Facebook has introduced several standalone apps to mixed results, most notably its separate Messenger app. Others have included Mentions, aimed at celebrity Facebook users; an Instagram-like photo-sharing app called Camera; and Poke, a Snapchat competitor. (Facebook eventually pulled Camera and Poke from the App Store.)

In Hyperlapse’s case, the app debuted strongly but now ranks #1,355 for daily U.S. downloads, according to mobile tracking firm App Annie. That’s much lower than Instagram and Facebook, which still hover in the top 10.

But whether Layout succeeds with users in the long run or quickly fizzles, expect more collages in your Instagram feed in the coming weeks.
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