Starting today, Instagrammers no longer have to crop their latte art shots to the app's creatively restricting square aspect ratio. Now users can choose one of two additional layouts -- portrait and landscape -- to add horizontal or vertical real estate to their images. Finally!
This is the latest in a series of changes for the app that include saving photos larger than the standard 640px resolution, and a streamlined redesign for in-browser viewing. All of these changes seem to nod at the fact that professional photographers are using the service more and more, and want more control over how their images appear.
I've often wondered how strange it will be for someone to look at all the photographs posted over these last few years and wonder, why are they all square? This was definitely what set Instagram apart at first -- the square was also kind of a throwback to a Polaroid's dimensions -- and it has become something that the app has become known for. It's probably not as important anymore, from a branding perspective. It also shows that Instagram is listening to its users, who have whined about this since the beginning.
While those of us who have been struggling with ways to squash that REALLY AWESOME SUNSET into a square (by using third party apps to add white borders, mostly) are thrilled with this development, it's not a plus for all users. Smartwatches, for example, frame a square image perfectly; these new shapes will probably have to be shrunk significantly to be seen. The different sizes will also distort our feeds, so Instagram has a fix to help keep our them clean: "Your post will appear there as a centre square."
Happiest of all, however, will be filmmakers, who no longer have to hack off the edges of their videos to fit in frame. Meaning we'll have a lot more Instagram experiences that look like this.