November 28, 2023

Instagram may have stopped its controversial redesign, but that doesn’t mean the company plans to stop focusing on full-screen content. During his weekly Ask Me Anything today, CEO Adam Mosseri confirmed that Instagram will begin testing super-tall 9:16 photos “in a week or two.”

“You can have tall videos, but you can’t have tall photos on Instagram,” Mosseri said. “So we thought maybe we should make sure we treat both equally.” Instagram currently goes beyond 4:5 when displaying vertical images that are cropped accordingly. However, introducing support for thinner, taller 9:16 photos will help them fill the entire screen as you scroll through the app feed.

Instagram’s TikTok-like redesign was criticized by some photographers for the way it forced all photos to clumsily appear in a 9:16 frame. The new feed also added overlay gradients to the bottom of posts so that the text is easier to read. But this clashed with the original appearance of the photographers’ work. Here’s a great look at that initial experiment courtesy of Thomas Fitzgerald.

During Instagram’s choppy redesign testing with users, Mosseri admitted several times that the full-screen experience was less than ideal for photos. Now we see that Instagram still intends to showcase this towering photography experience — but without forcing it across the board.

The company’s own data showed that Instagram’s revised design was so distasteful to some people that they started using the app less often. “I think we need to take a big step back, regroup and figure out how we want to move forward,” he said in an interview last week. Instagram also said it will reduce the number of suggestions shown to users until it’s better at curating content they’ll actually enjoy.

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