People don’t like change and they really don’t like it when these changes involve Instagram (see the outrage over the new logo).
So when Instagram quietly started testing a horizontal feed for some users, people lost it. The horizontal feed was a huge shift from the vertical scrolling user experience that’s been the norm since the app launched.
The new feed basically turns all posts into a single, giant Instagram story, complete with tapping to advance and a scrolling bar at the top to show you how far you’ve progressed. It’s certainly a jarring change for Instagram’s community, which has grown accustomed to the old feed.
With the horizontal feed, each photo (and ad) is given the spotlight at any given time — you can only view a single post, and the comments are much more prominent now, appearing with a flick upward.
Sorry about that, this was supposed to be a very small test but we went broader than we anticipated. 😬
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) December 27, 2018
It’s also much harder to quickly fly through your feed with the new layout: you can only advance a single post at a time. Another side effect of the new layout is that stories are easier to access, with the bar now always available by swiping down, instead of requiring that you scroll all the way to the top of your feed.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri said on Twitter that the horizontal feed was meant to be “a small test” that “went broader than we anticipated.” But a Facebook spokesperson contradicted that in a statement to The Verge. “Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.”
Only a few minutes after the horizontal feed went live, the old-fashioned vertical feed seems to have reappeared for most of the users that had been seeing the horizontally scrolling test. But even the update was an accident, it seems that Instagram is taking the horizontal feed seriously — and it may not be long before it rolls out to devices for good.