Facebook Stories grows up, adds new options, from audio to archiving

If you ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Stories are the future for social video sharing. Facebook is continuing to pad that future with a handful of updates to Stories, rolling out Wednesday, May 16, in India before popping up in the network globally. The update moves Stories beyond the full-screen visuals with an audio option, along with adding the option to archive Stories and a tool that saves photos and video to Facebook to free up smartphone storage.

The audio post adds a recorded message with a colorful background designed to mesh with Stories’ full-screen flip through the visuals from the day. The same tools for adding stickers and doodles to photos are also possible on that background.

The audio feature is designed for sharing content that’s less visual. The tool is also helpful for content that’s hard to type out — which can sometimes be a language issue, like in India where the feature first tested, which has 22 official languages. The update may also be helpful for influencers that don’t work with as many visuals, such as podcasters and radio personalities.

Stories’ visual focus isn’t going anywhere though — and soon Stories don’t have to disappear after 24 hours either. While Stories won’t be publicly available after 24 hours, the update brings the option to archive those Stories, allowing users to go back and view the content they shared later — after all, looking back for a #ThrowbackThursday image doesn’t work with self-deleting content. Instagram, where the Stories format grew quickly, already has a similar archive feature.

The third part of the Stories-focused update allows users to save images from the Facebook Camera to a private Facebook cloud storage. The network has several reasons for trying out the ability to save those photos without saving them directly to the smartphone. First, in many areas, like India where the feature is first launching, smartphone space is hard to come by, leaving limited room for saving photos and videos on the device itself. Second, by allowing saves, users can take pictures in the moment, but add the images to Stories later.

During the last earnings report, Zuckerberg said that Stories would be a focus for the company. While Facebook seemed to have slower growth, Instagram Stories and the similar WhatsApp status have well surpassed the users from Snapchat, where the format originated. A recent study by Block Party said that Stories grew 15 times faster than Feed-based sharing, with 79 percent of companies posting Stories, nearing the 97 percent posting to news feeds.

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