Instagram's bringing captions to Stories and, eventually, Reels

Good for those who want to consume content with the sound off, or those with disabilities.

Effective today, Instagram has given users the chance to enable captions in their Stories. The company will enable this feature for Reels in the future, though it doesn't specify exactly when that will happen. The captions option is already available for IGTV and Threads content creators.

Captions appear as words on the Instagram user's video by floating on and off the screen seamlessly. Instagram says that this feature is meant to make Stories much more "efficient, inclusive, and easier for everyone to watch and understand."

To activate captions for your Stories, you will have to record a clip with the Stories camera (or you can grab one from your personal gallery as long as the audio is decipherable), pop up the sticker tray, and select "Captions." Your spoken words will be transcribed on the screen, which you can customize to different colors, font, and alignment. Here’s a video from Instagram outlining the process:

Captions benefit everyone — Storytelling could improve for Instagram users given that captions allow people to convey information about their photos and videos in a much more visual and comprehensive manner. Plus, there are times when users aren’t in environments where they can enable sound for the Stories they are watching.

There is also potential for boosting engagement on Instagram. With the right kind of photo or video, a caption can increase a reader's interest in a story, ad, or other content. For brands, this kind of descriptor could translate to further sales, plus there’s very little effort involved in embracing it. But most critically, captions are an accessibility feature that encourages inclusivity by opening up stories and other content to people with auditory disabilities as well as people who are learning a new language.

Do the UX next please — If Instagram is open to further suggestions, it should also consider an overhaul for its UX because, well, it sucks. It was only last week rapper T-Pain discovered a full folder of direct messages that he missed out on thanks to Instagram's less-than-intuitive interface.

In its defense, Instagram has been trying to improve — albeit elsewhere. It has added an anti-abuse tool for direct messages and a series of features oddly similar to TikTok's, including Reels and Remix. But then, the company’s modus operandi is well established by this point: If you can’t beat them, copy them.