Instagram’s latest 2.5 update has swapped out their “popular” tab for a new “explore” feature which allows users to browse photos based on users and hashtags — it’s a more functional search system. Now, instead of seeing photos that have the most likes, users can search for hashtags based on events and topics, which also makes it possible for users to have wider circulation of their images.
The photo app has also been promoting a community use of the hashtag on their blog, which suggests weekend hashtag projects — most recently, #handmadeletters, pictured above and other featured hashtags.
Username searches are also easier under the Explore section with the username autocomplete feature for on people you follow.
Interestingly, the logo for the Explore section looks a lot like a compass — which begs us to speculate that Instagram might also add a search based on location, which would make sense given their existing partnership with Foursquare when geotagging photos.
This is the first major update that Instagram has made since Facebook acquired it for $1.01 billion in April this year, so a new Facebook feature is no surprise: you can now share your Instagram likes to your Facebook.
The updated app also feels slightly faster and has a subtle feature that allows you to touch and hold on the camera button to get directly to the camera roll — one less click than before.