One of Facebook's greatest inventions is the photo tag, which made it simple for anyone to browse photos tagged of their friends, no matter which friend uploaded each photo. Today Instagram is following suit with the launch of Photos of You, a new profile section that includes every photo friends have tagged with your username. The feature is rolling out today as part of Instagram 3.5 for both iPhone and Android.
"One of the most common things people do on Instagram is @ mention their friends when they want to add them to a photo," Instagram says, and Photos of You plans to address that. Once you've taken a photo, a new button lets you tag people and places, like your friend Dana or a slice from Joe's Pizza. As you browse your feed, tapping a photo once pops up tags, which hover over people and places much as they do on Facebook. Up to this point, tagging a friend generated a story in a friend's News tab, but nothing more. Now, tags are aggregated by user, and push notifications are sent to each person who's been tagged.
Photos of You is undoubtedly a useful feature, but it's also symbolic of a movement away from the "now" — a space Instagram has come to represent. With the launch of Photo Maps, Instagram made the places you've been indexable, and with Photos of You makes people indexable as well. Yet, one of the things many people like about Instagram is how present-minded the app is. As Facebook users learned with the launch of Timeline, Instagram users will soon find their history in the app to be more transparent than ever. In order to mitigate any blowback / apprehension from users, Instagram has made it simple to untag photos, and is also giving users until May 16th before anyone can see photos tagged of them. Additionally, photos that you've already been mentioned in are not automatically added to Photos of You. Each photo will have to be tagged individually by its photographer.
Photos of You is a very user-centric feature addition, but brands — a group Instagram is increasingly look to impress — should also reap some benefits. Brand pages like Burberry will also include Photos of You sections, where images users have tagged with @Burberry will be aggregated. Instagram already has a system in place that lets any user turn on final approval before tags go live (like on Facebook), so don't count on being able to spam brand feeds with your selfies.