Instagram Revamps Search, Explore Features

Saying its goal is to "help connect our community to the world as it happens," Instagram on Tuesday unveiled two major updates to how its site works: a powered-up search function and a new Explore page that makes it easier for users to discover image and video trends in real time.

The updates could help Instagram become more of a Twitter-like source for news from developing stories and live events. Instagram has already surpassed Twitter in terms of number of monthly active users -- more than 300 million, compared to 284 million in December.

The two companies appear to be increasingly competing for a lead in the race to deliver real-time content to online users, albeit in different formats: primarily text for Twitter versus images for Instagram. Twitter, which was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in April 2012, appears poised to overtake LinkedIn next.

While more than 70 million new photos and videos are added to Instagram every day, users until now haven't had an easy way to find images from specific moments and places, the company said in a blog post today. The new features announced today are aimed at changing that.

'Completely Reimagined' Explore Page

Being rolled out first only in the U.S., Instagram's new Explore page has been "completely reimagined" to make discovery "immediate and effortless," the company said. The updated feature now "surfaces trends as they emerge in real time, connecting you to events and conversations both near you and around the globe."

In addition to trending Tags and trending Places, Explore now also offers links to curated collections of images that will be regularly updated, according to Instagram. Among some of the collections the company has highlighted are "Glimmering Islands," "Extreme Athletes," "Ancient Ruins" and "Towering Rocks."

The revamped search function will make it easier for...

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