Instagram's brief horizontal scrolling test causes an uproar among confused users


Instagram had its users in a muddle over the holiday week as it accidentally rolled out a huge change to the mechanics of its photo feed – a change that meant users had to tap on images to advance through the feed, rather than using the traditional scrolling method.

In other words, you could browse the photo feed in the same way you browse Instagram Stories, by tapping to progress, and with new items shuffling in horizontally. Instagram says the experiment shouldn't have appeared for all users, and the update was quickly rolled back within an hour after attracting a whole lot of anger online.

If you want to see some of the disgruntled takes on this potential change to the feed, take a look at #InstagramUpdate on Twitter. Based on those responses we'd say it's going to be a long time before Instagram thinks about applying this tweak again.

See more

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri was quick to downplay the slip on Twitter, saying that the experiment should only have appeared for a very small group of users. If you're still seeing the horizontal feed in the app, try restarting it, Mosseri says.

Just like every other app out there, Instagram is continually testing new features and options with a limited number of people – profile redesigns and video tagging are just two such experiments we've seen in recent months – but it appears in this case the limited number of people ended up being just about everyone.

It's not clear what benefits Instagram thinks this "new way to move through posts" might bring for users, but if you're a fan of the new style you might be out of luck – there's no indication this is going to be available again in the near future.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.