Instagram hopes two new features will make its service a little easier to use: trending tags and the option to search for photos by location.
"With the introduction of Trending Tags and Trending Places, the new Explore page connects you to events and conversations in real time, nearby or around the world," the company said in a blog post. "Instagram is also adding curated collections on the Explore page to highlight compelling accounts and locales."
The second feature, Places Search, lets you search through public photos by location. So if you want to see how crazy the crowd is on the Mall, or if you get nostalgic for views of the Eiffel Tower, you can easily find and view those shots.
The new features make Instagram a little more real-time than it has been -- to this point, the service has been more of a lean-back experience than a network you have to monitor all the time. Some of the updates mirror steps that Facebook, which owns Instagram, has taken to compete with more real-time social networks such as Twitter.
The changes could make Instagram feel more accessible and make the whole network seem a little more free-flowing -- you don't have to work as hard to seek out accounts you want to follow to see good pictures.
But people should also realize that it's easier for strangers to find and view their Instagram shots. To that end, if you want to protect the privacy of your account, you can always opt to make your Instagram account a "protected" one, so that you have control over who can see your pictures.