Tech

Text translations are coming to Instagram Stories

Instagram just got even more global.

A directly above view of a redhead Caucasian woman sleeping quietly at home and being waked up by an alarm clock set on her smart phone, smiling
Ivan Pantic/E+/Getty Images

Beginning today, Instagram will offer an instant translation feature right in Stories. Instagram users around the world will be able to translate text on Stories they’re viewing with just a couple of clicks.

Instagram

The feature is very simple to use. When viewing an Instagram story where a language other than your own is detected, a small “See Translations” banner will now appear in the upper-left corner, beneath the person’s username. Clicking the banner reveals the translation at the bottom of the Story right into your native language. Instagram says more than 90 languages are available for translation at launch.

In-Story translations are a relatively small but meaningful update to Instagram that should make the app even more global in scope than it already is. Right now the feature is only available for static text, but we expect translation for Instagram’s audio captions won’t be too far behind, either.

More (and less) like TikTok — Instagram is doing everything in its power to keep influencers and users on its platform and away from the sweet, sweet pull of TikTok. Given its unique feel and general popularity, Stories is a sweet spot for Instagram — a place where it can integrate new features TikTok has yet to copy. Text translation is an area TikTok has left mostly untouched for creators; it’s therefore yet another way Instagram can differentiate itself from the competition.

Instagram is simultaneously aware that people do like the TikTok experience, so it’s also taking steps to make the Instagram feed more like TikTok. It’s a tenuous balance, and one Instagram’s definitely going to keep struggling with for a long time.

Ever more global — Instagram is one of the most popular social media networks in the world, with more than a billion active users globally. Some might consider it most popular in the United States, but there are actually a few million more active users in India than in the U.S., according to Statista. Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, and Japan all have more than 40 million active Instagram users, too.

In this context, it’s a little surprising it’s taken Instagram this long to add translations to its popular Stories feature. Facebook and Instagram have both offered text translation features for quite a while now in various parts of their respective apps. Facebook has been investing heavily in translation AI as of late, though; we’ll likely be seeing more of a push for translation features on Facebook products in the not-too-distant future.

Stories translation is available now around the globe in 90+ languages, with more to come soon.