Instagram issues major update, goes all geo-friendly on us with Photo Maps

instagram photo mapsFacebook acquisition or no, Instagram keeps building. Today, everyone’s favorite photo-sharing app pushed a significant update, the most notable feature being Photo Maps.  “We’ve introduced a new and unique way to browse your photos and others’ photos on a map, which means you’re no longer constrained to browsing through page after page of photos,” the company announced via its blog, saying browsing was a focus for this latest update.

instagram photo mapThere have been a handful of popular Web alternatives for this function, like Gramfeed and Mapstagram, which create a feed you can view by location. But including it in the native mobile apps for Android and iOS is a big change that gives Instagram some much-needed variety to its photo discovery experience.

Now when you view a user’s profile, there’s an option to browse photos via a Photo Map, which plots thumbnails along Google Maps. In order to use Photo Map, you have to give Instagram permission to go through your geo-plotted images and you select those that you’re okay sharing with via the function. Those that you don’t select will lose their location information permanently. The understanding is that, from now on, when you geo-tag a photo and upload it to Instagram, it will be sent to Photo Map, but the app is giving you the choice to go back and strip this data from pictures you don’t want plotted.

Pro tip: Knowledge is power, people, so don’t include those photos taken inside your apartment.

instagram screenshots mapsnew instagram profilesThe update also includes some UI changes, many of which relate back to Photo Map. Now when you post a photo, there’s an on/off toggle to include the image on your Photo Map, and the option to share to outside social networks appears on this page as well. User profiles will also get a makeover, with different viewing options – by tiles or the traditional full-screen scroll – as well as the new geo-focused display.

instagram post to photo mapsA few other comparably minor tweaks include the addition of infinite scrolling, speed improvements, and the ability to report individual comments as abuse or spam.

Instagram has become a go-to for location-specific events (I’d like to once again take this opportunity to point out Kevin Love’s account and his unparalleled documentation of the U.S. Olympic basketball team; pure gold… pun intended), and aiding that sort of discovery will only keep up this momentum. Not to mention the fact that this gives us a whole new way to approach discovery other than the endless scrolling we’ve become all too familiar with.

The update puts Instagram in a very good position to lay claims on social photo mapping — something that many, many apps have tried in vain to do. Pairing photos and location is tricky stuff, but if any platform is primed to do it, it’s Instagram. 

Social Media

Instagram test reveals direct messages may be coming to browsers

Instagram for the web has always been a minimalist affair compared to the feature-rich smartphone app, but in the last few years that's started to change. The latest news is that Instagram is considering adding direct messages.

The best new music this week: Robert Ellis, Golden Daze, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: Brand-new music from Robert Ellis, Broken Social Scene, and Golden Daze.

Thrive in the nuclear apocalypse with our Metro Exodus survival guide

Metro Exodus is a difficult shooter, especially if you're new to the series' blend of stealth, action, and scavenging. Here is what you need to know to survive the nuclear apocalypse.

Need a date for Valentine's Day? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.

Save space on your iPhone by turning off Live Photos in the camera app

If you want to save storage space on your iPhone or reduce the size of your backup for iCloud, then you should think about turning off Live Photos in the camera app. Find out exactly how to do it with our easy guide.

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.