Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app called Direct, which would replace the private messaging feature found in the core app.
So far, Direct is only being tested in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay, with no word on a rollout in other countries, but it certainly suggests where the company is looking to take messaging. Installing Direct actually removes the messaging functionality from the base Instagram app, making the inbox only accessible from the standalone app.
By offering messaging through a separate platform, Instagram intends to make the overall experience much smoother. “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 The Verge.
“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.”
Such a move isn’t entirely unprecedented for the company. For years, parent company Facebook’s messaging system was handled in-app, until the social network launched a dedicated Messenger app in 2014. While initially poorly received by users, the Messenger app has gone on to be used by over 1.2 billion people each month. In fact, messaging apps altogether have overall higher user counts than the dedicated social media apps.
The new Direct app currently doesn’t have any significant features not found in the main Instagram app. In it, there is are screens: one for the camera, profile screen and inbox messages.
Instagram is looking to make the transition between the two apps seamless. Swiping all the way to the right of the Direct inbox will open the main Instagram app, while doing the same action in the core app will bring the user to Direct.
The Verge also reported that there were a number of filters exclusive to Direct, such as a censorship-esque mouth blur and live cut-out of the user’s mouth to superimposes over the real mouth.
It’s worth noting that Direct wasn’t an original feature on Instagram, but since its implementation, it’s accumulated 375 million monthly users as of April this year, according to the company. This is attributed to the rise of Instagram stories, which make it easy for users to quickly respond to the ephemeral photos and videos through a quick private message.
Source: The Verge