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Instagram Explore and Discovery Shines Light on Trending Topics

Anyone who has scratched their head while trying to search for posts on Instagram is in luck. The social network is rolling out a new Explore page with trending tags and places, as well as a revamped search feature to make it easier for users to find popular topics and hashtags.

As detailed on Instagram's blog, you'll find these new features in the app's search menu, which has been overhauled as well. Front and center are Trending Tags, showing snapshots from popular hashtags. At the time of this writing, the new Batman game was trending with the hashtag #arkhamknight, as well as topics like #coachella2015 and #july4th.

Above the Trending Tags list is a discovery carousel, showing new categories of posts you can explore, and at the bottom is where suggested posts live now. Overall, the search page feels much less chaotic and cluttered than it did before, and there's clear direction from Instagram as to which posts you may like based on your searches and posts, and which photos are currently very popular.

Instagram's improved search feature now gives you more filters through which to find photos. Previously, you could only search for posts and hashtags, but now you can search through top, people, tags, and places filters. When I searched for Milano, I found posts that used the #milano hashtag and photos that were posted from Milan, Italy, as well as Alyssa Milano's official Instagram account.

This news comes shortly after Instagram announced @Music, an Instagram-run account that gives a glimpse into live concerts and all things music, and incorporates hashtag challenges for users to participate in. It also comes as news of Twitter's upcoming Project Lightning broke recently, which plans to highlight top posts on current events chosen by a group of editors. Project Lightning won't roll out on Twitter until the fall, but Instagram 7.0 is available as an updated to Android and iOS devices today.

The revamped features are a welcomed change for Instagram, which hasn't been the easiest service to navigate when you want to discover new content. Until now, users had to rely on the suggested posts in the search menu and the jumble of results that would pop up when you searched for a keyword. Now, Instagram is positioning itself as an alternative to Twitter for discovery and conversation around current events.

As the New York Times reports, the services have roughly the same number of users but Instagram reaches a much younger audience, thanks to its photo-centric content. One thing is certain - Instagram isn't just for heavily-filtered photos of your lunch anymore, and the company wants everyone to know that.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.