Instagram Tests Direct for a Stand-Alone Messaging App

Kevin Systrom

Instagram is now testing Direct, a new messaging app that was previously a part of the main Instagram app. "We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app", an Instagram Program Manager told The Verge. Kevin Weil, vice president of product at Instagram, said in a tweet that although Instagram Direct is only rolling out to these six countries at first, Instagram also "can't wait for you all to try it".

WhatsApp is the most popular, followed closely by Facebook Messenger.

When users install the new Direct app, Instagram will automatically stop displaying chats; a swipe to the left will present you with a swift animation that brings you straight into Direct, while doing the same from Direct's inbox will send you back to Instagram.

When described that way, Direct makes more sense. These are still three different markets and Facebook might just be hoping it stays that way but there is a certain amount of fatigue that sets in simply knowing you now have to deal with so many messaging apps and eventually people pick one or the other.

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This test sounds a lot like what Facebook did with Messenger over the last few years. While photos are encouraged, you're not limited to using them.

Direct, which now opens to the camera in a similar way as to how the other social media photo-based platform Snapchat does. None of them are offered on Instagram right now, and they're all just fun and silly, like one that replaces your mouth with a large, clown-like mouth.

In August 2016, Instagram released a near-perfect copy of Snapchat Stories, in the form of Instagram Stories.

The coolest thing about Direct is that it's so easy to transition from Instagram to Direct. In third place is Chinese messaging app QQ Mobile. However, unlike Messenger, which always had the potential to be a full fledged messaging app, Instagram Direct only really works or is relevant within the realm of Instagram and becomes largely irrelevant on its own. As of April 2017, Instagram Direct, still married to the Instagram app, had around 375 million active monthly users. The seamless transition will nearly make it feel like you're in one app.

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