Just like its parent company, Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app, Direct. 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. The app will be available in handful of countries starting today on both Android and iOS. The Verge appears to confirm that scenario, citing Instagram Product Manager Hemal Shah as saying that the ephemeral nature of Direct Messages is a better fit for a standalone app than an attachment to a completely public social media platform. According to The Verge, the photo sharing social network is testing a standalone Direct messaging app.
As a messaging-first experience, Direct becomes Facebook's third service of its kind, beyond the aforementioned Messenger and WhatsApp. But the company is seeing a growing number of people sending direct messages to one another and wants to provide a platform on which they can communicate. It features unique camera filters that are not yet available on Instagram.
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The development of the Direct app closely follows the rise of Instagram "stories" which prompted users to engage in a back and forth with their friends in a functionally similar way to Snapchat. As it stands, only a few markets have this new app Direct rolled out while Instagram continues to experiment. (You don't have to take a photo, though; you can also pull down to reveal a screen that lets you type your message.) To the left of the camera is a profile screen that lets you access settings, switch accounts, and navigate to various corners of Instagram. The app consists of just three screens. You can even go further and swipe to the right once more to open Instagram. Its safe to say that Stories will not be moving over to the new app as it has a firm standing on the main Instagram app.
Instagram hasn't announced a global release date, but TechCrunch reports that the app will arrive in 2018 after bugs have been worked out and user feedback has been collected. Otherwise, I wouldn't expect a lot of users to use the app.