Instagram has been testing a standalone messaging app named Direct. The app would enable users to share private messages, videos, and photos with other users.
The app functions similarly as messaging on Instagram. It features unique camera filters that are not yet available on Instagram.
According to CNN Tech, the company has been testing the app in countries including Turkey, Chile, Uruguay, Italy, Portugal, and Israel. It will be released by 2018, however the exact date hasn’t been confirmed yet.
However, it is not yet clear if Direct will fully replace private messaging feature by Instagram, which it released in 2013. Once users install Direct, Instagram’s private messaging feature disappears. However, the feature will reappear as the standalone messaging application is deleted.
Instagram’s latest move aligns with the move by its parent company, Facebook, to enforce users to download messenger app for private chat. Facebook disabled its private messaging feature from app in 2014. Though the decision was widely criticized, the messenger app has over one billion monthly active users as of now.
Facebook has been widening its mobile footprint through messaging apps. It recently launched messenger app for children aged between 6 and 12 years. It allows parents to control their children’s chats. The company designed an app to enable children use social media safely.
Instagram is also expected to face some backlash as users may not be willingly to download another app for messaging privately.