Instagram is currently testing a standalone private messaging app it’s calling Direct.
It’s not hard to see what plans Instagram has for this new standalone product; towing the path that birthed Facebook Messenger. It’s also not hard to see that eventually, Instagram is going to remove the direct messaging feature from the core Instagram app.
The app is currently being tested in six countries, Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay (does Nigeria ever test these things). It’s also available on Android and iOS.
What’s Instagram’s plan?
First, some context. When Instagram was first created, it was built as an app to help people share moments with the public. But the world has changed since then. And now, Instagram believes the messaging feature, which has become a means to share everything privately, deserves a shot at going solo.
Hemal Shah, an Instagram product manager, told The Verge:
“We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that. 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.”
This might also be another one of Mark’s grand plans to take all the eyeballs from Snapchat. The app consists of just three screens. The camera is what pops up when you open the app. Like Snapchat, the goal is to let you share more, but you don’t have to. There’s also the option to type.The screen to the left is the profile screen where you get to do all the settings and stuff. To the right, inbox messages. And that’s all.
Do we really really need another app?
That’s the question everyone will be asking, but Instagram believes we do. And they might be right. When Facebook shut out messaging from the app in 2014, it was met with serious backlash. Fast forward to now, Facebook Messenger now has 1.3 billion users, up from 500 million in 2014. Instagram’s messaging feature has 375 million monthly users. So there are doubts that Instagram will even be going back on this. One thing we hope is that Instagram stays true to simplicity, and not try to be that app that tries to be everything (Hello Messenger).
When does this go global?
We don’t know, and Instagram currently has no timeline for when this will happen. But one thing we do know is that it’s potentially going to be one of the most popular apps in Facebook’s library.