Similar to Facebook Messenger, Instagram is testing a standalone app for private messages called Direct. Reportedly, this could be the first step towards removing messaging features from the core app. Also Read - WhatsApp announces rollout of end-to-end encrypted backups for Android, iOS
Direct, which integrates camera the same way Snapchat does, will be available on Android and iOS today in six countries – Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay. If you install Direct, the inbox disappears from the Instagram app and can only be accessed in the messaging app. Although no such plan has been outlined yet, Direct could potentially become Facebook’s third popular messaging tool alongside Messenger and WhatsApp. Also Read - Facebook launches Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses alongside new Facebook View app
As reported by The Verge, Direct is officially only a test. The publication quotes Instagram product manager, Hemal Shah as saying, “We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that.” Also Read - Instagram down: The photo sharing app is not working for users globally
Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own.
He further goes on to explain how private messaging can never be a best-in-class experience when it lives inside an app meant for broadcasting publicly. “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.”
From what has been reported based on the experimental version of Direct, there is little in it you won’t currently find in Instagram. The app consists of just three screens. Like Snapchat, it opens to the camera. To the left of the camera is a profile screen that lets you access settings, switch accounts, and navigate to various corners of Instagram. To the right is your inbox of messages. That’s the whole app, says The Verge.
However, there are some new touches to the app as well. Reportedly, if you start swiping to the right of the Direct inbox, an Instagram logo pops 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 and completing your swipe will take you back to Direct.
Also, the test app apparently has four exclusive filters. “One filter bleeps you at random while blurring your mouth, which you’ll appreciate if you’ve ever enjoyed Jimmy Kimmel’s unnecessary censorship videos. Another filter creates a live cut-out of your mouth and superimposes it over your actual mouth, making you look like an insane clown. A third filter creates an infinite video loop zooming in on your open mouth as multiple versions of your head swirl around you.”
While we are sure if Instagram goes through with making the Direct app global, the platform will for sure maintain the element of excitement that defines Instagram. However, from the reports of test, the only downside we can notice as of now is the need to constantly shuffle between the two apps.
To recall, in 2014, Facebook played similar cards. The company removed the integrated messaging from within Facebook, and began to force people to download an independent Messenger in order to view any message they received. Many resisted at first, but most of them gave in eventually, considering Facebook Messenger reached 1.3 billion monthly active user mark this September.