DEC 21, 2017
This month, The Verge was first to notice Instagram is test launching a standalone-messaging app called Direct. Parallels with Snapchat were quickly drawn, as was the fact that this would empower ‘parent company Facebook [with] a third popular messaging tool alongside Messenger and WhatsApp.’
How does it work?
In its current state, ‘there is little in Direct you won’t find in Instagram,’ explains The Verge. ‘Like Snapchat, it opens to the camera, in an effort to get you in the habit of regularly sharing… To the left of the camera is a profile screen that lets you access settings, switch accounts, and navigate to various corners of Instagram. To the right is your inbox of messages.’
But you do benefit from being instantly connected with all your Instagram friends, as well as all the platform’s features (create and share Stories, Boomerang, and other creative tools), plus access to four exclusive filters.
Why a separate app?
The official reason, according to Instagram, is that ‘private messaging can never be a best-in-class experience when it lives inside an app meant for broadcasting publicly.’
Meanwhile, tech journalists rationalize the move as a competitive one. ‘Why build a separate app for stuff that’s already available and functional with Instagram?’ writes TechCrunch. ‘The most obvious answer is that this is yet another barrage in the Instagram’s assault on Snapchat. Gizmodo agrees: ‘It’s painfully obvious that Instagram wants to watch Snapchat flame out into a pillar of dust.’
When can I use it?
For now, Direct is only available on Android and iOS in six countries: Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay.
Is there a downside?
If you install Direct, the inbox disappears from the Instagram app and can only be accessed in the messaging app. This leaves you having to switch between the two apps, especially if you’re used to starting chats from the Stories feed.
The Verge’s comparisons with the criticisms of Messenger since going solo are also worth noting: ‘The challenge for Instagram is to expand Direct’s feature set while retaining the simplicity that made it attractive in the first place.’
Would you use Instagram Direct? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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