Instagram has rolled out today a new version of its Direct Messaging section. The app update merges temporary and permanent messages into a single chat, so you can now send disappearing photos and videos in private and group conversations.
While it does not seem like a significant change, these minor tweaks are the result of Instagram’s extreme attention to detail, a trait that Snapchat seems to lack or disregard.
The move comes as the latest swing Facebook is taking at Snap in their ever-ongoing battle for photo-sharing innovation in social media. Both apps have seen considerable growth in recent times, but only the platforms headed by Mark Zuckerberg have copied features of Snapchat to get there.
What’s different in Instagram Direct and how does this work?
Before the update, Instagram Direct displayed different messages in different ways. Ephemeral messages from friends showed up at the top as bubbles, whereas regular conversations appeared as a list below.
Now, only the list remains. There is a new blue camera icon at the bottom of the Direct home screen, from which you can take only photos and videos that will disappear. It is also present next to each conversation and within the chat.
Users will be able to discern between permanent and ephemeral messages for their color. Content that vanishes after 24 hours will prompt blue notifications, while regular pics and vids will show up in black as usual.
Blue content, like always, will be visible only twice before it disappears forever. You will be notified when others play it for the second time or if they take a screenshot. This simple interface fix promises to keep growing the number of people who use the app daily.
Instagram has been “assimilating” Snapchat’s features for a while now
“SINCE OUR LAST UPDATE IN NOVEMBER 2016, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE USING DIRECT HAS GROWN FROM 300 MILLION TO 375 MILLION. WE WANT TO MAKE DIRECT THE BEST PLACE TO HAVE FUN, VISUAL CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR FRIENDS,” Instagram said in a blog post.
If that sounds familiar, it is because being the place where you had “fun, visual conversations with your friends” was Snapchat’s gig. Now, however, Facebook and its platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp) have copied most of the features of the white ghost app.
Some might even dare say the social giant has not only copied but also vastly improved and almost perfected said features. As a result, many wonder if there is any legal issue with this whole ordeal, but the concrete answer to that is no.
In putting their twist and not carbon-copying Snapchat’s code and look, Facebook is not at fault legally for say, introducing Stories in all its platforms. If that were the case, there would be legal battles left and right for features like feeds and hashtags.
Instagram’s CEO has acknowledged this and given full credit to Snapchat in the past, so it is technically all fair and square in the fight for social media dominance. That is, of course, if you exclude the fact that Instagram now outranks Snap by over 200 million users.