Instagram turns itself into a photo messaging app

Instagram logoInstagram announced “Instagram Direct,” a new service that allows users to send photos to a certain set of recipients, at a press event Thursday in New York. The messaging service appears to be an indirect strike at the ephemeral messaging platform Snapchat, though it does not borrow Snapchat’s ephemerality as a feature.

Users can send photo messages to up to 15 recipients at a time. The platform is not ephemeral—when the photo is opened, recipients can see, comment, and like the content. The photo messages also have built-in read receipts, so when a recipient views the photo, a check mark appears by their name if the sender looks at the message again.

Instagram turns itself into a photo messaging app

Messages are collated in an inbox that is separate from a user’s regular Instagram feed. Users are alerted to new messages by a badge over the Inbox icon. Users can only receive messages from people they follow; messages from people they do not follow are filtered into a “pending request” tab that users can then approve if they wish to see the attached message.

The inbox has no internal organization, so the messages appear as a chronological list. As recipients interact, their actions (likes or comments) are signified by a badge attached to their profile picture along the bottom of a photo.

This represents another differentiation from Snapchat, which allows users to send one photo to multiple recipients, but no recipient can know who else is seeing the photo. With Instagram Direct, the addressee list is on the table. Still, it's clear Instagram is after a piece of Snapchat's business—news recently surfaced that the company turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook, which owns Instagram.

Instagram Direct will be available in both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store starting today.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Instagram, social networks

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