Facebook Testing Out Direct, a Standalone Messaging Application for Instagram

08 December, 2017, 01:32 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Kevin Systrom

The standalone Direct app opens on the camera like Snapchat, and swiping to the left of it will bring users to their Profile screens, whereas their inbox is located to the right. According to Hemal Shah, an Instagram product manager, the reason for this limited test launch for Direct is that the company feels that such features can only be improved if they are available as an app on its own, rather than just a feature inside the main Instagram app.

Facebook now operates two of the world's most popular messaging apps in Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp that both have more than a billion active users. Facebook's decision was controversial at the time, but the move has ultimately paid off for the company, with Messenger now boasting more than 1.2 billion monthly active users.

If Instagram's inbox is still available inside your Instagram app that's because the Direct standalone app launched only in certain markets, including Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay.

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Direct, which now opens to the camera in a similar way as to how the other social media photo-based platform Snapchat does. But, what is the new Instagram Direct? Creators came up with it because they feel that it's hard to have a great private messaging experience in the same app that allows you to publicly broadcast messages. Direct also ships with four exclusive filters and is ultimately seeking to grow its user base even more by providing people with a more focused experience, albeit one that's still deeply integrated into Instagram. It says messaging through Instagram can never be a full experience so long as it lives in another app. Like Snapchat, it opens to the camera, in an effort to get you in the habit of regularly sharing.

In the past few years, WhatsApp has remained a relatively unchanged, bare-bones messaging app, while Messenger has become much more, transforming into a platform of its own: Bots, payment options, phone calls, and even games have now found a home in Messenger.

Swiping left from this page will take you to the Account and Settings page. Whether that happens later or not remains to be seen but it makes sense for it to be within the messaging app.

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