Instagram launches Direct, a standalone messaging app

Kevin Systrom

The app is similar to what private messaging is like on Instagram already, but it opens directly to the camera instead of your list of messages, similar to Snapchat. The new standalone app, also called Direct, is now being tested with users in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay. For those who choose to install it, the inbox disappears from the main app ... It will soon be made available on Android as well as iOS presently in six mentioned countries, which are Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay. "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 continues to expand its mobile footprint with messaging apps. Currently, the test version of the app doesn't allow you to DM in Instagram itself at all. All you have to do is swipe left once you are in the Direct inbox to reveal Instagram icon which will direct you to the Instagram app.

Further mirroring Snapchat, Facebook also began inviting Messenger users to add animated reactions, filters, masks and other effects to their video chats, earlier this year.

The new app was first spotted by The Verge today. That helps explain why Instagram is considering unbundling such a significant part of its experience while Facebook's unbundling strategy appears to be up in the air. Instagram has been improving Direct over the recent months to take on Snapchat and sustaining that growth will require the company to continue developing the platform.

Personally, I don't mind Direct much.

The new app's structure feels a lot like Snapchat: When users open it, the camera pane will open, emphasising the app's focus on creating new material (photos and videos) to share. Hopefully, the same thing doesn't happen to Instagram Direct. Swiping the app all the way to the right will bring up the main Instagram app. If you anxious this new app would make private messaging complicated, this proves it won't. The move would mirror the actions of its parent company Facebook, which removed messaging from the core Facebook app in 2014 and replaced the feature with the standalone Facebook Messenger app.

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