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Instagram Redesign Puts Reels, Shopping Front and Center

Adriana Lee
·2 min read

If there was any doubt that competing in the short-video space and amplifying its shopping powers are major priorities at Instagram, the app’s latest redesign should remove all doubt.

The Facebook-owned business has revamped its layout to spotlight these areas with a new set of tabs, the company revealed Thursday in its official blog.

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The redesign isn’t really surprising, given that the company hinted at the changes when it tested different layouts in September. But for an app that doesn’t constantly cycle through different looks, interface changes like this speak volumes about what the company believes is important.

“This year, with the pandemic and much of the world sheltering in place, we’ve seen an explosion in short, entertaining videos on Instagram,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote. “We’ve also seen an incredible amount of shopping move online, with more and more people buying online and young people looking to their favorite creators for recommendations on what to buy.”

He casts the new Shop tab as a place where inspiration and commerce meet, with an effect that could also help small businesses. Users can hit up the tab to find personalized recommendations, editors’ picks curated by Instagram’s @shop channel, shoppable videos and new product collections, among other things.

The point of the Reels tab, obviously, is to call attention to the nascent short-video offering.

Mosseri didn’t specifically reference TikTok, but the month-old Reels is largely viewed as Insta’s answer to the Gen Z social phenomenon. The rival consistently remains a popular app in Apple’s App Store, and Instagram has made no secret of the fact that it is exploring a deeper push into shopping.

Thursday was supposed to mark a decisive moment for TikTok, as the Trump-mandated deadline arrived for its Chinese-based parent company to sell the app to U.S. companies. But so far, there’s been no decisive movement against TikTok, prompting a late-breaking appeal from the developer to vacate the order.

The app is still among Apple’s top 10 free apps.