Our relationship with Instagram seems to always be love-hate. Which is why every time the app offers a new feature, there's always some glitch diehard users want to pick on, like we would with a new partner who almost makes the cut or a new restaurant that just hits the sweet spot if it weren't for their "pay more for guacamole" rule. The photo sharing app is no different. It just offered users a chance to create albums with their pics, but still, since we're all picky, everyone wants to know why Instagram Galleries pictures have to be square.
Turns out, there's actually a good reason for the rule.
When Instagram launched, the only pictures users could upload had to fit into the square format, which was an annoying, but do-able request for anyone who really wanted to make sure their all-star pancakes were photographed and saved for prosperity in their newsfeed. We adapted and learned how to zoom and angle our shots. In 2015, the app finally let users snap out of the box, as it were, and take portrait or wider shots and post them on the app. So why the new restraint with the new Galleries feature? It's about making it easier to swipe.
The non-technical reason for the square rule? A lot of us aren't really great at taking photos. The square format is annoying, for sure. In-laws get cut out of pictures and you think the best way to capture a birthday cake is by standing really far away from it. But when it comes to a unified scrolling experience, which is what Instagram is all about, the square format was a way to ensure that all the images flowed as you sat up late one night breastfeeding and didn't have to turn your phone around or zoom in to see what everyone else was up to.
Really — the square thing is all about making sure everyone's experience is sort of the same. Although the app now allows users to take images and scale them to fit into their platform in 2015, the new Galleries function is a bit of a throwback.
The app hasn't made a statement as to just why it's requiring users to go back to the old square format, but if you think about it, it makes sense. The new feature is a way to scroll through your friends "albums" seamlessly and never get distracted. To do that, a square format is the best way to go.
If anything, instead of complaining about the square feature, take it as a lesson in composition: Zoom in, find a focal point, and then snap. Your followers will thank you for it. And your Galleries (also known as albums in laymen's terms) will be better off.