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Instagram takes on Twitter with 'Explore' feature for real-time news

Popular photo-sharing app's latest feature highlights the most important photos and videos from across the country.

Instagram's updated "Explore" real-time visual stream wants its users to see the world's events as they happen. Instagram

Instagram wants to out-Twitter Twitter.

The popular photo-sharing app announced on its blog Tuesday that it has updated its "Explore" feature so users can easily find real-time news and events as it happens.

The update from Instagram, which was bought by Facebook in 2012, follows the emerging obsession with letting you track current events as they are happening. Last week, Twitter announced its upcoming feature, Project Lightning, which will track tweets, videos and large-scale photos based on live events. It's the same trend that has made live-streaming app Periscope, which was bought by Twitter earlier this year, and rival Meerkat critical players in the social-media world.

"People are hungry for what's happening right now in the world," Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom told The Wall Street Journal. "All of us in social media and regular media, we're all competing for the same thing, which is this gap between something happening in the world and you knowing about it."

Instagram's goal is to likewise give its 300 million users the same kind of immediate update that Twitter delivers. The company also introduced a new search feature to let users look for images by people, places or hashtags all at once. With more than 70 million photos and videos posted to the site daily, Instagram said that whenever something big is happening, the chances are you will see it there.

The changes could possibly help users track the latest attention-grabbing events such as the aftermath from the fatal church shootings in Charleston, S.C., to the latest on the whereabouts of two missing prison inmates in upstate New York.