While Instagram hasn't officially denied or confirmed any new Portrait and Call features, TechCrunch is reporting that there are several hidden features within Instagram’s Android Application Package (APK) that signal possible, if not probable, launches on the horizon.
Portrait Shutter Icon For The Stories Camera
Most smartphones, both Android and Apple, have a portrait option within the default camera. Smartphone users can shoot a picture with their mobile device and upload the picture to Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites. However, social media users on Instagram and Snapchat are increasingly favoring using in-app Stories cameras to record content with special effects and advanced editing features beyond the capabilities of their native smartphone cameras.
Instagram and Snapchat both must constantly evolve to offer new, exciting, and helpful features to get pictures and recorded content on their sites and for each to remain relative in general and competitive against the other.
A new evolution feature that may give Instagram an edge over Snapchat is an icon for a Portrait shutter for the Stories camera. If launched, the new feature would enable users to create stylized images with lightening effects like a bokeh effect-blurred background. This would expand Instagram's shutter mode collection past traditional options like Superzoom and Boomerang and give it a distinguishing feature that Snapchat doesn't offer.
Ishan Agarwal, a TechCrunch reader, examined Instagram's Stories camera. She recompiled the APK, which is public, and found the hidden Portrait shutter icon was overlaying the Instagram Stories camera shutter button.
Whether Instagram’s portrait mode will only be a single setting or include multiple avenues to stylize an image isn't known, but, either way, there's a great deal of potential for users to simulate a fancy SLR camera with the feature.
Instagram's objection to confirm doesn't necessarily mean this is a glitch or something they've sent to the tech junk yard. A Giphy GIF -sharing feature had been spotted in early January, to which Instagram also neither confirmed or denied at the time. Just a week later they launched the feature.
Instagram Portrait Bottom Line
This feature may seem like a throwback more so than an innovation at first glance. Both Snapchat and Instagram have offered users a plethora of ultra-techs sepia latte art, augmented reality filters, GIFs for every occasion, and a sticker to boot.
The problem? While users posted bombastic images with these features when they first hit the scene, the novelty has quickly lost its appeal with many because the created images simply aren't of moment or value beyond the moment. In other words, they weren't quality images that were worth saving long-term. The potential portrait mode, however, could enable users to create quality media worthy of a permanent spot on their Instagram pages.
Instagram Voice And Video Calling Feature
Another Instagram addition possibly in the works is a hidden voice and video calling feature within Instagram’s Direct messaging system, a feature launched by Snapchat back in 2014. Facebook lead the pack with VoIP audio calling in 2013 and six-way split-screen group video calls in 2016.
Again, here's Instagram competing with other social media apps... only this time Instagram wants to be your camera and your phone.
According to TechCrunch, files within Instagram and APKs show "video call" and "call" icons. Unreleased features that are dormant often surface on APKs as a company is preparing to launch. APK button icons are public knowledge, but it still takes time to sift through and a keen eye to spot. So, the appearance of the call icons suggest that Instagram is prepping to roll out audio and video calling within its direct messaging system.
WAbetainfo blog had previously spotted a video call button in Instagram's code back in January, to which Instagram had "no comment." Not surprisingly, Instagram still has no comment following the report by TechCrunch 'Being popular on Instagram has never been more important" .
Instagram was designed to be a window into the lives of friends through feeds, Stories, Live, and Direct memes and messages, but by adding a calling feature, Instagram can offer both windows and doors to users. If Instagram can cement itself as 'the' way to best visually communicate, then it could certainly steal existing Facebook and SnapChat messaging users.
In closing, Instagram users can only speculate as to if and when these features will be launched at the moment, but the features showing up in APKs certainly make it look like they're likely to be launched sooner rather than later.