Instagram Square Photos Are A Thing Of The Past Now, So Let's Look Back On Other Times The App Changed For The Better

Ugh, finally, at last: Instagram photos don't have to be square anymore! The photo-based social network is now letting users post proper landscape and portrait photos instead of just sticking to that infuriating perfect square, and photographers both amateur and professional are freaking out about how awesome this is. No more cropping out some of your friends from 'grams because you couldn't manage to fit everyone in the square box! Pictures of nature you take while hiking will actually manage to look as impressive as the view did in real life! You'll finally be able to fit your killer shoes into photos you took of your on-point clothing ensemble!

Of course, Instagram still doesn't have a lot of features for which a lot of people are still desperately clamoring — where's that regram button? Why can't I put in a link to credit the source of a photo? Have they freed that dang eggplant yet? — but at least they finally listened on this one. Instagram's reasoning for only allowing square photos was basically aesthetic, and honestly, it was a little lame. Life is not a perfect square, so why should we have to limit our pictorial representations of life as one?

But for the curious, there's the explanation for the square — and why it was so problematic. Writes Wired:

There are logistical reasons for shoehorning photos into the shape: Squares look great in a grid and feed format. They provide a consistent visual experience for both photos and the little interface details like username, likes and comments. It relieves us of having to make yet another decision on yet another app, and that lightening of the cognitive load is not insignificant.

But enforcing a standardized aspect ratio is also a huge (and endlessly frustrating) creative constraint. And Instagram knows this. The company says one out of every five photos is posted with some form of black or white padding on the side. This update (for iOS and Android) is an effort, as Instagram product manager Ashley Yuki explains, to make those horizontal and vertical photos feel more native to the platform. “We call it the full bleed treatment,” she says, explaining that photos will now extend to the edge of your phone’s screen.

If you've been on a site like Tumblr, which has layouts that force photos into a grid, you'll know that there's an obvious workaround for the "squares look great in a grid" thing: Automatically cropping the photos on users' profile pages and letting them expand to full size when users tap on the photo. That's exactly what Instagram ended up doing. The upload default will still be square, but you'll be able to change that with a few taps.

To celebrate this — and, again, point out that it is totally possible for Instagram to add a regram function — we found other times our favorite photo sharing service changed for the better. Illustrated, of course, by Beyonce, the best Instagram user of all time.

1. Search and Explore

Remember how you used to not be able to search on Instagram? Now you can find hashtags, trends, and photos taken at specific places. We have this to thank for #eggplantfriday.

2. Advanced Photo Editing Tools

Once built-in features started becoming a bit cliche, Instagram put control of things like saturation, brightness, and warmth into users own hands — effectively letting them make their own filters.

3. The "Color" Option

Similarly, just recently Instagram began letting you tint the shadows or highlights of your photos with certain colors (something that has the ability to give your photos quite an otherworldly look).

4. New Filters

Last winter, Instagram added Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, and Aden — in other words, the best filters so far. Oh, they also added Perpetua.

5. Hyperlapse

Also known as the time lapse feature. Because one of the coolest things about being snowed in in the winter is watching time lapse videos of snowfall.

6. Video

Duh. Remember that Instagram not-too-long-ago didn't actually allow you to upload video? Not anymore. And thank God for that — just look at what Beyonce has done with the feature.

Images: CamponeZ/Flickr; Giphy; Beyonce/Instagram (6)