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More changes are coming to Instagram, including gifs in the DMs and maybe even hideable hashtags

Published Sep 20th, 2018 11:34PM EDT
New Instagram features
Image: Simon Belcher/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Those of you who drown your Instagram captions in hashtags to rack up all those sweet, sweet likes for your photos (#and #you #know #who #you #are), Instagram appears to be testing a new feature just for you.

The test involves making hashtags not show up in the captions but still preserve the ability for them to surface your post in searches. The hashtags would apparently show up as blocks underneath a post as part of this new feature, credit for the discovery of which goes to indefatigable app researcher Jane Manchun Wong (We, and many other sites, have written previously about other buried or not-yet-announced features of various apps she’s discovered early).

Here’s a tweet from Jane that’s apparently the result of her poking around a beta version of the app:

Her analysis also seems to indicate there’s not as yet a limit on the hashtags that could be included as part of this new feature. (Which means that, soon, there will be no excuse for those of you who follow the #vacation hashtag not seeing my photos, but I digress.)

Shifting slightly from a feature being tested (again, no word yet on if this one will ever make it into the wild), Instagram is actually moving forward with a few other new official updates to the app. One of which is the newly announced ability to use GIFs in your DMs, a feature that’s available starting today in the iOS and Android versions of the app.

“In any message thread, tap the new GIF button in the composer bar to open a library of the latest trending GIFs powered by GIPHY,” Instagram announced via a blog post. “Swipe through to see what’s currently trending or search using keywords or phrases to find the perfect GIF to make your friends laugh. You can also add an element of surprise by sending a random GIF. After you type in the search bar, simply tap ‘random’ to send a random GIF associated with what you’ve searched.”

All of this is just the latest in what’s been a pretty fast cadence of new feature releases (as well as a lot of general experimentation) at Instagram, which includes the release earlier this year of things like IGTV and Instagram recently adding a shopping tab to the app.

Among other features being tested — again discovered by Jane, Instagram also is apparently experimenting with the ability to “geofence” your content. Giving you the ability to limit your posts and stories to only being visible in certain countries, for example. As with the hashtags feature, no word yet on when or if this one will be official, either.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.