Facebook appears to be developing a new feature for Instagram that would effectively turn the service into a direct competitor to Pinterest.

Pinterest, which is filing to go public, is a service that lets you organise your own photos or other users' photos into public or private albums. These photos (called pins) can be of art, fashion, furniture - whatever you want. And you can tag them, link to them, make them shoppable, and more.

Instagram, similarly, lets you save other users' posts into a private space in the app so that you can peruse them later, and it lets you round up and organise all those posts into private collections. So, if you like to save photos of interior design and fashion on Instagram, you can make a private collection for each of those topics. However, Instagram might soon allow you to make your collections public.

Reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong, who has a great track record when it comes to leaking unannounced features in some of our favourite apps, shared with TechCrunch a screenshot of a “Make Collection Public” option in Instagram. This option is not available to the public, but she spotted it in the Instagram for Android code. It shows Instagram will allow you to toggle the public visibility of a collection.

TechCrunchTechCrunch image 2

You'll also be able to add contributors to a collection, which means you could give credit to users whose photos you've rounded up. There’s nothing to suggest users can follow collections, but that seems like an obvious next step - one that'd make Instagram work almost identically to Pinterest. Instagram has already told TechCrunch it's not testing this stuff, though that's a boilerplate response.

If Instagram does indeed launch public collections that users can follow, Pinterest should be very worried.