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. 

Product Review

You should definitely buy a MateBook X Pro, just not this one

Huawei has a new version of the MateBook X Pro in 2019, building off the success of its first iteration last year. What’s new? Well, the graphics card, the processor, and the pricing. Not all of these are in its favor.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Mobile

The Avalon V is Alcatel’s first Verizon-exclusive smartphone

Alcatel is has announced a new phone, the Avalon V -- but this budget device isn't what makes the announcement special. It's Alcatel's first phone on the Verizon network, and it's available now.
Mobile

Big, beautiful, and breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases

There’s no denying Samsung’s ability to turn out an attractive smartphone, but glass curves are expensive to fix and metal chips easily. We've rounded up the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases on the market.
Mobile

Sidestep banking fees with the nationwide launch of T-Mobile Money

T-Mobile has launched its Money banking service nationwide in the U.S., and it offers an extremely tempting set of features for everyone, including industry-leading interest rates, a powerful app, and no banking fees.
Mobile

The OnePlus 3 & 3T both receive an open beta for Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

Charge and sync with the best Lightning cables for your iPhone or iPad

If you’re looking to replace a lightning cable, or in need of something a little longer or tougher, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 of our favorite cables for the iPhone and other iOS devices.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for April 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Mobile

Selfies are now banned at China’s gigantic Aperture Spherical Telescope

You can't take a selfie with the world's largest single-dish radio telescope anymore, as the Chinese government has banned everything from smartphones to digital cameras in the surrounding 5-kilometer area.
Android

The dramatic BlackBerry Key2 Red Edition is now available in the U.S.

BlackBerry's Key2 is likely to be the best keyboard-equipped phone in 2019, with a modern look, some powerful specs, and totally revamped features. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.
Mobile

The Best iPhone 7 battery cases to give your phone some extra juice

The iPhone 7 doesn't have terrible battery life, but you never know when you'll need to juice up on the go. To help, here are the best iPhone 7 battery cases that can keep your smartphone charged and ready for long-term use.