Instagram is making its video Stories and Reels more accessible with the launch of a new “captions sticker” that will allow users to watch without having the sound on. The addition will not only make it easier for users who are hard of hearing or deaf to engage with video content, it also offers a way for users to watch videos when they’re somewhere they don’t want to have their sound on — and either don’t want to wear or don’t have access to headphones or earbuds.
To use the feature, creators will first record a new video using the Stories or Reels Camera in the Instagram app, or select a video to upload from their phone’s gallery. Then, you’ll open the sticker tray and look for the new “Captions” sticker, which will convert your speech to text. You also can edit the style, position of the caption and the text and color so it matches your content. When you post, the captions will appear alongside your video for everyone to see.
At launch, the feature is only available in English and in English-speaking countries, but Instagram plans to roll it out to other countries and languages soon, it says. It’s also rolling out the captions sticker first to Stories and will then begin testing it in Reels, with a broader launch to follow.
The captions sticker had been spotted last year while in development, alongside other potential new additions, like a Collab sticker, Link sticker, Reshare sticker and others. Instagram parent Facebook also appears to have a captions sticker of its own in development. The sticker then began testing earlier this spring with some number of Instagram users.
The addition comes only weeks after TikTok announced its own captions feature, which it calls auto captions. The two products are somewhat different, however. Auto captions automatically translate the speech from a TikTok video in either American English and Japanese, to start, but the text itself isn’t customizable and can be turned on or off by the viewer from the app’s share panel. It also hasn’t yet been broadly adopted and many TikTok creators tend to still use captions they create themselves or via third-party apps.
Instagram notes it had previously launched support for captions across Threads and IGTV, but its expansion to Stories and Reels will make more of an impact, given that Instagram Stories alone is used by more than 500 million people every day.