Sliding Inside DMs May Go ‘Direct’

Is it possible for DMs to become more direct?


Instagram is testing out their new standalone messenger app, Direct, which could replace the current inbox model and remove all messaging features from the core app. Think: Facebook Messenger.

Direct operates similar to Snapchat, in that it opens up via camera. Available on Droid and iOS, the app is the in testing stage in six countries: Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay. Once installed, Instagram’s inbox feature disappears from the app and can only be accessed through Direct. Pending a global launch, Direct could give Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, a third popular messaging app to include: Facebook Messenger and Whats App.

The downside of Direct is downloading a separate app. The current model allows users to toggle between the main app and the inbox, particularly when accessing it through Stories. Removing this feature means users will have to install a second app, which didn’t fly so well when Facebook launched Messenger.

The upside: Direct’s design only slightly differs from the current Instagram design. It houses three screens, the first opens to the camera for adaptability. Users have the option to take and share picture, as well as message back and forth using the dropdown keyboard. The second screen, on the left side of the camera, is the profile which houses settings, along with the ability to switch accounts and navigate other areas of Instagram. The third, to the right, is the inbox.

The beta test gages whether Instagram’s tool for private messaging can thrive on its own, although there’s a reason they believe it will. Messaging apps have more aggregated users than social networks and with the net neutrality in jeopardy, this pushes conversations from public forums to private chats. If Direct grows large and independent of Instagram, the app can become a constant in the lives of its users while it expands the company’s business opportunities.

Some of the accents to Direct include a stylish transition between Instagram’s core user face and the app. Swipe right in Instagram to access Direct and the paper plane logo for the current inbox appears. Swipe right in Direct and the Instagram logo appears to bring users back to the main app. Additional features include four exclusive filters that either bleeps and blurs the mouth, turns it into a clown caricature, or an infinite loop that zooms in on the mouth while multiple versions of a user’s head swirls around them.

Still, the uproar behind Facebook’s Messenger launch is one to consider. Despite the heavy complaints, today the app has 1.3 billion users. A huge leap from the 500 million when it launched. Although avoiding complaints is seemingly impossible, launching the app gives Instagram the opportunity to improve the experience while its audience continues to grow. The challenge; however, is for Instagram to expand Direct’s features while maintaining the simplicity that attracted users in the beginning.

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