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Instagram is going live with version 3.0 of its iPhone and Android apps Thursday. If version 2.0 was about new tools to develop photos -- Instagram introduced a slew of new and faster filters, as well as tilt-shift -- version 3.0 is about new ways to consume them.
The centerpiece of the update is a feature called Photo Maps which, if enabled, will organize your geotagged photos on a map. Your map will be displayed prominently on your profile (see above), and you'll be able to explore the Photo Maps of other users, as well.
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It's fun to see your photos pinned to various parts of the globe, but what's key, says Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram, is that you can now much more easily access photos you and others took months or even years ago.
"In the beginning, social media was thought of as this ephemeral medium -- you put something out in the world and it falls off people's feeds in an hour or two. But really photos get more valuable as time goes on, they become points for nostalgia," Systrom posits. "Up until now we made it too difficult to access [those old photos], you had to scroll back pages and pages. We want to let you browse those photos in a fast and efficient manner, and we realized that the way to organize them wasn't time, but [location]."
"There's something really powerful in exploring who someone is on Instagram through a geo versus a time display," he adds.
Systrom and his team have taken considerable privacy precautions with the new feature. Photos aren't added to a map until you okay them, and you'll be able to clearly delineate whether you want each future upload to be added to your map. It's also easy to browse your map and delete photos taken in certain locations like, say, your apartment.
Systrom says the first version of Photo Maps is merely "setting the stage for more interesting features to come." Eventually, he suggested, he'd like to make it possible for users to browse events, like the Olympics.
Beyond Photo Maps, you'll discover newly redesigned user profiles, and hashtag and location pages, as well as a revamped Explore tag. Photo grids now appear larger, as is the text box for entering captions. Infinite scrolling has been enabled, so you'll no longer have to tap "load more" while browsing photos -- they'll load automatically. You can also report individual comments as abuse or spam.
There are no new filters included in the release, but Systrom says there's "stuff cooking" in that department. He declined to share user numbers, but said the company is looking forward to hitting its 200 millionth signup in the future, and that Android now constitutes a third of Instagram's registered userbase -- "a huge number for only being out there since April," Systrom observes.
I asked Systrom if Instagram had considered adding an album feature so that users could upload multiple photos from an event, or enabling video uploads. Systrom says he's "not concentrating on the organization of photos right now," but rather on "presenting patterns in data, and allowing [users] to produce the most interesting photos out there." As for video, he said it has "always been interesting to us," but the timing isn't yet right. "As the speed of phones get faster, and capabilities get better, I think video becomes more interesting. But I can't comment on video right now."
And any update on the Facebook deal? I asked in closing. "I wish there was. We're working hard on it, and that's a good thing."
This story originally published on Mashable here.