📰 Instagram is testing a standalone app for direct messaging


The Instagram experience is set to change greatly after the popular photo-sharing app announced that it’s testing a new standalone messaging app called Direct. This is set to separate the messaging functions from Instagram and instead delegate them to Direct. Once a user installs this new app, the messaging features will disappear from the Instagram app and you can only access them on the Direct app.

In the footsteps of Facebook?

To many, this is like deja vu. This is because in 2014, Instagram’s parent company Facebook took a similar step and split its messaging features from the core Facebook app and required its users to install a new standalone app, Messenger for all their messaging needs. Though it was met with a lot of criticism and resistance, Messenger has gone on to become one of the most popular direct messaging apps. This may be the motivation behind Direct which is currently in a testing phase in six select countries. These are Chile, Uruguay, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Israel.

How does it work?

In its current state, Direct app has a simple interface which is very user-friendly. Its default home screen is a camera, just like Snapchat and this is meant to have you sharing your photos and moments more regularly. When you pull down the screen, a screen appears that lets you type your message and send it to your Instagram friends. When you swipe to the right, a screen appears that contains the messages in your inbox. Swiping to the left takes you straight to your profile where you can easily navigate between features such as account settings and switching accounts. This is the simplicity which Direct app will be offering its users once it’s rolled out to the masses,

Exclusive filters

Filters are at the heart of Instagram and with its new Direct app comes exclusive filters that are currently not available in its core app. The first of these creates a live cut-out of your mouth and then lays it over your actual mouth giving you a hilarious clown look. Another filter creates an infinite video loop which zooms in on your mouth as very many versions of your head twirl around you while yet another filter sensors your speech randomly while blurring your mouth. As the app is still in testing phase, more filters might be added before it’s rolled out.

Simple switching

The major concern for Instagram users with the introduction of the Direct app would be having to constantly switch from one app to the other. Instagram anticipated this and devised a smooth and simple transition. When on the Direct app, you just swipe to the right of the inbox and an Instagram logo pops up. Once you swipe all the way to the right, Direct opens the Instagram app. When on Instagram, you swipe to your right and the Direct app logo pops up and when you complete the swipe, Instagram opens the Direct app. The Direct app logo is a modified version of the paper plane logo that Instagram has been using for messages.

Taking the battle to Snapchat

Instagram and Snapchat have been involved in the longest battle to be the premier photo-sharing app. In recent times, Instagram has been making inroads into Snapchat’s turf with new innovative features and Direct is the latest. Instagram launched the Stories feature last year primarily to poach some of Snapchat’s users and it worked perfectly. As reported by TechCruch, the usage of Snapchat Stories saw a significant reduction after the launch and with this new app, the battle is set to intensify.

The official rollout of the Direct app has not been set but it’s expected to be in mid-2018. This is because Instagram has to respond to the feedback of its users who are currently testing it and work out the bugs. Maybe they might even add a few new filters, I know you’d like that.

What do you think, will this mean that there will be more ways to promote on IG or on the contrary?

Also, I wonder why they don’t try to combine the Ig and Fb messanger apps into 1 and they feel it’s better to create a new one :slight_smile:


They may just want to get another app in the top 10 downloads to appease investors.


There actually is an app that combines IG and FB Messenger and is called Facebook Page!


Instagram is literally turning into Facebook more and more each day. Before we know it they’ll both be carbon copies of each other.


Why do we need so many freaking apps? I never downloaded FB messenger. I will likely never download IG messenger. I just don’t see why we need so many different apps to do the same thing.

If Instagram and Facebook could create one business app that did everything, that’d be the best solution!


They have to show shareholders that they’re “working” to better the experience of their users and bring in new flows of ad revenue. Whether it really helps the UX of the user or not in the end is not what they care about, ITS DA MUNNNNY BAYBAY :money_mouth:

But overall IMO this would completely take IG out of the game, the whole allure of IG is to slide into those magical DMs baby :smirk:


As a regular user, I always actively disliked what FaceBook did with messenger, but the the real idiocy first started with google+ and youtube (remember that?).

At any rate, it sucks to have to install, update and use two apps instead of one. I understand a new app with fun features, but not the gutting of DM’s in Instagram. As ErikL mentioned it just makes some numbers look better on a report somewhere. I can only hope that it somehow goes horribly wrong for them and causes the company to loose some money and get a ton of bad press (lets all use it to send dick pics!), which can become a warning to other companies considering the same type of user unfriendly move. Doubt it though.

I’m sure I’ll eat my words when some enterprising marketer finds a way to make bank using it and it turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread… who even knows what kids want in an app these days :rolling_eyes:

As an Instagram marketer I instinctively dislike all social-media related change as it requires more effort on my part to get with the flow, but am resigned to the fact that change gonna come. At the end of the day it’ll be a few more clicks for us I suppose.