Instagram is testing a new standalone messaging app

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Instagram appears to be getting serious about its in-app messaging. Beginning in six countries, Instagram is testing out a new standalone messaging app called Direct. The app handles all the previous messaging capabilities you had in the main Instagram app. It also removes the inbox from the old app.

“Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own,” Instagram product manager Hemal Shah told The Verge. “We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app.”

Since first integrating direct messaging into its app in 2013, Instagram has continued to tinker with the feature, adding things like disappearing photos and videos as more and more people have flocked to the messaging channel. Now, Instagram iOS and Android users in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay can try out this standalone app as an alternative to having direct messaging baked into the main Instagram experience.

For those who have ongoing conversations with multiple friends, the new app could be a more useful way to organize those chats. It does mean swapping back and forth between two different apps instead of simply swiping from one screen to another within the Instagram app, which might feel inconvenient for some.

Perhaps unsurprising given some of the company’s past moves, this standalone messaging app takes a few cues from competitor Snapchat. The app opens directly into the camera view. Swipe to the right, and you can access your profile settings and other navigation options. From the main screen, if you swipe left, you access your message inbox. When you swipe downwards from the main camera screen, you get the option to type out a message.

One of the only main differences between what Direct offers and what you get in the main app is the addition of four new filters. This includes one that randomly censors your words with bleeps, which sounds incredibly entertaining.

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Instagram doesn’t yet have a firm timeline on when it may roll out Direct globally. We’d be surprised not to see Direct land on U.S. home screens within the next year. More than 375 million Instagrammers use Instagram Direct now, so there’s certainly an appetite for an improved messaging experience.

H/T The Verge



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