First Look

Don't be a square: Instagram ditches rigid boundaries

The photo-sharing app Instagram will, for the first time, allow users to post photographs in a portrait and landscape format.

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    These three screenshots of the Instagram app show off new features that allow users to post photographs in portrait and landscape format, in addition to the signature square.
    Courtesy of Instagram
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Instagram, the massively popular social media network that allows users to post and comment on photos and short videos is finally encouraging people “to think outside the square.”

Previously Instagrammers were limited in the dimensions of what they could post on the app to a square format, which led to awkward cropping or the use of digital workarounds to try to get portrait or widescreen photos on the site. One in five photos posted on the app are not in a square form initially, according to the company.

But with the introduction of a new feature, users are now able to tap a couple buttons to adjust the traditional square format into portrait or landscape shots, sharing the photo allows for seamless introduction into the image feed as a center-cropped square.

With the new feature, images with aspect ratios between 1.91:1 and 4:5 can be shared directly onto the feed.

The app’s push into video is one reason behind the new feature, allowing for widescreen cinematic shots that were previously unavailable or incredibly difficult to pull off. Along with the ability to change format for videos, Instagram has extended the filter selection for videos and the option to adjust the intensity of filters.

Square photos and the clean design they allowed, used to be the application’s visual trademark, but after branching out into other media, the importance of that branding started to wane.

The formatting option is simply the most recent in a series of changes in the application, which has come with a growing realization that Instagram is being used by professional photographers who want the ability to tell more visually complex stories.

Recently the app has allowed users to save photos larger than the standard 640 pixel resolution and engineered a new way to view Instagram in a web browser, instead of simply the app.

“We continue to be inspired by the creativity and diversity of the Instagram community, and we can’t wait to see what you create next,” the company said in a statement.

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