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Instagram rolls out controversial photo album feature on iOS and Android

Several weeks ago, Instagram introduced a new feature to the beta version of its Android app that enabled uploading multiple photos in a single post. The change brought the photography-focused social network much closer to the way Facebook handles albums. Now, the company announced it is rolling out the feature for all users on iOS and Android over the coming weeks.

Sharing several photos at once is as simple as tapping “select multiple” on the upload screen. Users can choose up to 10, re-order the set by long-pressing on individual photos and dragging and by using batch-apply filters. Albums are noted on profile pages with a stack icon and can be viewed carousel-style in the feed.

Depending on who you ask, this is either a welcome change for Instagram, which formerly restricted multi-photo posting to brands, or something fundamentally at odds with one of the defining characteristics of the network. For many, Instagram has always been about choosing a single image that perfectly encapsulates a moment or event, and using filters to make that image as powerful or provocative as possible. It was like Twitter’s 140-character limit, only for photography.

Yet, with this update, Instagram treads perilously close to parent company Facebook in execution, threatening to open up the floodgates to an inescapable torrent of self-indulgent vacation albums.

That said, Instagram does have a precedent of adopting features popularized by competing apps, like live-streaming video and Stories. The company is marketing the addition of multi-photo posts as another example of its emphasis on user friendliness, saying “it’s never been easier to share your experiences with your friends.”

That is a far cry from Snapchat, which has been criticized for having a comparatively more confusing interface that is hostile to newcomers. However, Snapchat’s efforts to go public have forced the startup to educate its investors on the app through helpful annotated diagrams and video guides.

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