First Instagram brought you Instagram Stories, then Messenger launched Messenger Day, and now Facebook is joining the Snapchat-like fun with Facebook Stories. In an update that will begin rolling out worldwide today, you'll get a slew of changes on your News Feed, the most noticeable of which is the appearance of Story circles along the top of your feed mimicking the appearance of Instagram Stories within Instagram.
The magic behind Facebook Stories is the new, in-app Facebook Camera, which you can access by tapping the camera icon in the upper left-hand corner of your News Feed (the Messenger icon that was there has moved to the right-hand side) or swiping right on your News Feed. Within the camera are a slew of interactive effects and masks, the absence of which was the primary distinguishing factor between Instagram and Snapchat. From an early look at the Camera, we can say that it is good — very good — primarily because of the extensive options that are offered.
The Stories that you see along the top of your News Feed function exactly like those of Instagram: Posts last 24 hours and will not appear elsewhere on Facebook (for example, on your Timeline), unless you post them there.
One minor difference between Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories is that the "Direct" messages icon is located along the top of your News Feed, to the left of the "My Story" bubble. Tapping that will allow you share photos or videos with just one friend or a limited group of friends, rather than adding it to your story for all to see. Friends can only see or replay a message once and you'll know after they've looked at it.
We first got wind of Facebook Stories in January, when tests of the new camera tool took place in Ireland. Feedback from those tests was implemented in the final product that rolls out today, but expect to see plenty of changes and additions moving forward.
"Over the coming months, we plan to introduce new ways for the Facebook community to create their own frames and effects that can be used on any photo or video created with the new Facebook camera," says Connor Hayes, a Facebook product manager, in a blog post announcing the release.
Wait for the update to arrive on your phone. Then, head here for a step-by-step guide to mastering the camera tool.