What do you get when you take Snapchat's Stories feature and strip out all the face-modifying filters and diverse graphics that make them fun in the first place? Say hello to Instagram Stories, the photo-sharing app's latest feature that's rolling out to iOS and Android today (August 2), and can be found in a row of icons at the top of the timeline.
So how much did Instagram borrow from Snapchat for its stories? Well, both allow you to create a reel of images and videos that expire after 24 hours, both let you change the color balance to black and white, saturated and sepia and both let you tap to advance to the next segment.
The mimicry gets more hilarious and shameless as you dive deeper in: both let you decorate your pics and videos with doodles and text, and swipe up to see who's viewed your snap... I mean stories.
To be fair, Instagram stories does bring two new elements to the table. Snapchat only gives you one drawing tool for doodling on images, and Instagram adds a flat-tip marker and a second tool that draws what appear to be laser-beams.
The other new element in Instagram's offering is selective privacy, allowing you to hide stories from certain followers. You can block people in Story settings (found in the app's settings pane), or from the "who's seen your story" overlay. Stories follow the same general privacy settings your account regularly uses, so private users will only share their stories to the friends they've already approved.
This seems like another me-too feature from Instagram, following its private Direct Messages and video Channels. Instagram may be a top social network, but it risks being seen as the industry copycat if it continues to replicate and not innovate.