Today, Instagram Direct, Instagram's in-app messaging service, is being tested as a standalone app, and moving out of the main Instagram app for those who download the new one. Social media king Facebook a few years back rolled Messenger into its own app and now, it appears interested in doing the same with Instagram. If Direct does become a standalone messaging app, parent company Facebook will now have three messaging apps under it. If Instagram users want to send or read private messages, they will now have to open the Direct app.
"We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that", Hemal Shah, an Instagram product manager, told me.
The Direct app, in its current state, is simple and straightforward. Direct opens to the camera app (much like Snapchat).
Instagram calls Direct a camera-first messaging service, but it's still unclear what path it is going to take (if it gets out of this experimental phase at all). You'll have the option of taking either a photo or video and adding your own effects and filters, with some even being exclusive to the app including a superimposing mouth and censor bleeps at random times.
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Instagram wasn't immediately available for comment. The inbox houses all of the user's received messages, while the profile screen lets users access the app's settings. Instagram has no timeline to launch it globally, but it'll probably happen eventually.
Remember how upset people were when Facebook started requiring everyone to install the separate Messenger app?
Instagram is launching Direct, a standalone, messaging-focused app. Now, it has grown to 1.3 billion users, as pointed out by Business Insider. As of April 2017, Instagram Direct, still married to the Instagram app, had around 375 million active monthly users.
This is similar to how Facebook stripped out the messaging aspect of its core app and introduced Messenger as its IM platform.