By Sharan Mujoo
Instagram recently announced the testing launch of a standalone version of its direct messaging service, called Direct. VP of Product at Instagram, Kevin Weil, tweeted on 7th December, “With hundreds of millions of people using Instagram Direct, today we’re announcing a test of a standalone Direct app. It’s fast, visual and super fun. Only in six countries to start but can’t wait for you all to try it.” The app is currently available only in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay on both Android and iOS.
So far, messaging has been a service embedded in the Instagram app itself. This move stands to separate the messaging service from the app and make it a different experience altogether. It is not different from what parent company Facebook did back in 2014 by introducing a separate app for its messaging service, now popularly known as Messenger. Once installed, Direct replaces the messaging functionality of Instagram by itself.
Features on offer
The app, though, is not very novel in terms of features. It comprises 3 screens: The Camera, Profile and Inbox. It’s easy to establish a comparison with Snapchat already. All this is bundled along with four new filters, which are currently not available on Instagram. The app opens with the Camera which allows you to share photos. One may also swipe down to enter text, so clicking a photo is not the only option. Swiping left slides into the ‘view profile’ screen, which lets you access settings, switch accounts, and navigate to various corners of Instagram. A right swipe brings in your inbox of messages. With another right swipe, one can access Instagram. Both apps maintain access to each other with a right swipe, which allows for seamless switching between the two.
A spokeswoman in a statement to Geek mentioned, “We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that. To make it easier and more fun for people to connect in this way, we are beginning to test Direct—a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram…“
Facebook’s move drew some resistance back in 2014, however, the app currently holds a billion users, which substantiates its success to some extent. Whether or not the same happens with Direct, remains to be seen. Instagram believes that private messaging can’t be the best experience as long as it remains within the app.
Response from Snapchat
What will be interesting to see is Snapchat’s response to this. With the stories feature now available on Whatsapp and Instagram and now this move, it is imperative that Snapchat differentiates itself in the image sharing space. The company recently announced an update which shall separate content from friends and publishers, influencers, and so on. The rationale behind this is to make Snapchat more personal for users. How this stands to help its market position with the advent of Direct, time will tell. Direct launches globally next year, across all platforms.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
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