Instagram Stories get more embellishments and a "save" option.


Instagram is sharpening its attack on Snapchat — and looking to be come more commercial.

The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app is introducing new tools that help users add more “context and creativity” to Instagram Stories, the disappearing posts that it added in August. It is also adding an option to make Stories more permanent

The new features let users embellish posts with a sticker tool, adding details such as the time, weather, the user’s location or temporary holiday-themed stickers. Instagram is also allowing more customization to the text overlays that users add to Stories, with multiple text boxes allowed.

That amounts to a direct assault on Snapchat, which has long-used stickers and other features to add a dash of fun to its platform.

And, in what will be welcome news for users who hate to lose a masterpiece, the platform is letting Instagrammers who have iPhones save their story from the previous 24 hours to their camera as one video. This video can later be shared to the user’s permanent feed. This means that content such as workout or beauty tutorials, or progressive interviews or events, will be easier for influencers to record, save and share (as long as they are using an Apple device).

Instagram is also courting influencers who increasingly turn to social media — rather than blogs — for the primary destination for content. And the platform is making it easier for users to record content for Stories with what it calls “hands-free mode” that eliminated the need for users to press and hold the camera to record. (Snapchat does not allow this.)

All of this amounts to just the latest in a series of ongoing updates from Instagram, which has been focusing on enhancing its potential uses as a commerce tool and adding features that both compete with Snapchat and echo its parent-company’s own thrust toward live video.

Last month, Instagram began a pilot, allowing 20 retail brands to add shopping details and outside links to photos.

It also expanded options for a broader user base, including the option to share live video at up to an hour long on Instagram Stories and to let verified account-holders add links to Instagram Stories. It also added the option for people to tag other users in a Story and the ability to send disappearing images and videos directly to other users. (As with Snapchat, the sender is notified if the recipient replays or screenshots the content.)

Instagram Stories reportedly has 100 million daily users, and Direct, the messaging portion, has about 300 million monthly users.

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