Instagram has just rolled out perhaps its biggest change ever.
The company has completely upended the feed, making people swipe sideways rather than scroll longways.
The new update is falling through now – meaning that if you haven't got it, it's most likely on its way.
What just happened?
With no warning, and no chance to prepare ourselves, Instagram rolled out a vast new change to the way it works. It is almost certainly the biggest change to the feed – even bigger than the removal of the chronological timeline – and perhaps the most substantial alteration to the app itself ever.
The change means that instead of scrolling down the timeline in the way that's so familiar from just about every app, you instead swipe side-to-side. You can also tap to click through.
Why has Instagram done this to us?
The message that pops up when the update arrives offers some clue about why this happened: Stories.
Instagram notes that the feature is more similar to the Stories tool that rolled out in 2016, allowing people to post disappearing photos and videos that could be clicked through in exactly the same way. It even tells people that they can use the same feed in just the same way.
Since 2016, Stories has become probably the most quickly growing kind of media ever to be launched: not just on Instagram but everywhere on the web, the side-swiping, clicky way of getting through an app has spread itself across the entire internet. Instagram Stories is now twice as big as rival Snapchat, and makes up a major part of the way people use the app.
Presumably excited by the vast popularity of those Stories, Instagram has decided to make everything else work that way, too.
It is worth noting that even as Stories have gone from strength to strength, and Instagram has continued to grow, the company's founders also recently left the company. That was because of disputes with owners Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg about the "direction of the company", according to a report in Bloomberg – and it may be that features such as these were the cause of those disagreements.
Has the update rolled out to everyone?
It seems to be on its way to everybody, though that doesn't mean you'll definitely have got it yet. Force quitting the app and scrolling around a little appears to make the new feature most likely to arrive.
Usually, new Instagram features – especially ones like this, which bring dramatic changes – are rolled out slowly, to a small group of people first and then gradually to everybody else. But this appears to have come in one fell swoop, on Thursday afternoon UK time.
What do people think?
They hate it. Almost everybody seems to absolutely despise the update.
Searching for the word Instagram on Twitter brings a whole host of posts, many including explicit language unfit for this website.
"Give me back my timeline," one illustrative but relatively family-friendly post reads. "This update SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Can you reverse it back to the old one?
In short: no. Instagram isn't giving its users the ability to use the old format, even temporarily: once the update has arrived, it has arrived forever, by the looks of things.
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