Instagram Testing Standalone Direct Messaging App, Hinting at Potential Removal of DMs From Core App

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Following in the footsteps of parent company Facebook, Instagram is beginning a test in six countries today that will see the launch of a new standalone app called "Direct," which will be solely focused on direct messaging friends and family members. As reported by The Verge, this could be the "first step" toward potentially removing messaging features from the main Instagram app.

Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay will get Direct on iOS and Android today, and if you download the app there and link it to your Instagram account, then your inbox in the core Instagram app "disappears" and can then only be accessed in Direct. Instagram currently has "no timeline" for a global launch outside of these countries, but said that its reason for segmenting off Direct in a test is to create a "best-in-class" experience for private messaging, which could not be possible inside a social-sharing application.

Image via The Verge

“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. “Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own. We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app.”

Direct is said to open to a camera like Snapchat, encouraging you to send photo messages to friends, and then you can swipe to go left to see your profile and settings, or right to navigate to your list of recent contacts. Direct also includes all of the usual filters, doodle tools, and photo effects Instagram has launched in stories and picture editing over the past year, as well as four new exclusive filters. "That's the whole app," according to The Verge, which also reported on a new way to easily jump between Direct and Instagram.

Still, there are some nice touches. Designers built what might be the niftiest app transition I’ve ever seen: If you start swiping to the right of the Direct inbox, an Instagram logo pops begins to peak out from the side of the app. Swipe all the way to the right and Direct will open Instagram. Similarly, you can swipe right in Instagram to reveal the Direct logo — a modified version of the paper-plane logo Instagram has long used for messages — and completing your swipe will take you back to Direct.

Since Facebook broke off Messenger into its own app in 2014, the company has added in chat bots, games, location sharing, ephemeral stories, online friend statuses, group video chat, and more. It's expected that Direct will also expand in a similar way if Instagram goes through with a global launch of the new app, which is starting off barebones in its test, leaving room for the company to "make it even better," according to Instagram product manager Hemal Shah.

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
37 months ago
No.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
Just like Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct will end up buried in my app folders. Shame too because I actually use the direct messaging feature on Instagram to send posts to friends or just chat. I don't need a separate app for that.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
Social media has become a joke and so cluttered
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
Instagram was the "perfect" social media platform a couple of years ago. No sharing button encouraged original content. Lack of read and typing indicators made Direct my go to service to chat with my friends.

Facebook is destroying the app with their attempt to make Instagram as a catch all social media service.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
Given the tight integration between Instagram and Facebook, why not just merge the direct messaging systems?

I’m sure it was considered but, whatever their reasons, you can be sure it’s not for the benefit of their users.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
I’m wasnt thrilled with how FB ripped Messenger out and made it a stand alone app. Then I decided I could see the benefits after all, and used it with my friends for awhile. But very quickly they cluttered it up with data mining crap and intrusive features. I thought I was just old and grumpy in my negative reaction and quick dumping of FB and their messaging app.

But my millennial nieces and nephews said they were irritated by it all, too.

I do perceive among my friends and family a “connectedness overload” and think social media overplayed their hand by adding on too many features that allowed people to become too intrusive on each other’s personal space.

It becomes harder to politely decline allowing oneself to have their online status or physical location tracked, or the pressure to acknowledge all of your friends’ posts becomes too demanding when you just want to sit back and relax. So it can become more attractive for some of us to opt out of social media at all.

Sometimes we just need our time and our schedules and our thoughts to ourselves and it’s very unpleasant to be tethered to a service that is doing its damnedest to pry those things out of us and distribute it all to the world.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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