Instagram has seen some fairly big changes since being acquired by Facebook in 2012, but the app's latest update could prove to be one of the most significant to date. As the company puts it in a blog post, it wants to let you "see the world as it happens," not necessarily just see what your friends are posting.
To that end, Instagram is adding a completely revamped "Explore" section to the app, which will display a real-time feed of photos tied to trending tags or places (both based on your location and photos from around the world). Alongside it, Instagram will also offer "curated collections" that it says will feature "interesting accounts and places, from musicians and extreme athletes to stunning architecture and gorgeous beaches."
It's also hoping to extend that broader feed to the app's search feature, which will now make it easier to find photos from specific places. The company gives the example of looking at potential vacation spots before booking a trip or checking out photos from inside a restaurant.
Of course, while the update offers plenty of new features for users, it also opens up a number new opportunities for advertisers — indeed, it hardly seems to be a coincidence that the changes come shortly after Facebook announced plans to significantly expand Instagram's advertising options.
The update is available today for both iOS and Android, although the new Explore feature will initially only be available to those in the U.S. It will apparently roll out elsewhere as soon as they "fine tune the experience and set it up to work well in other countries."