Instagram testing a stand-alone messaging app called Direct

Six different countries are going to be seeing something a bit different on Instagram, as the company experiments with separating out the messaging part of its service into its own app, called Direct.

The new service will be available for download for iOS and Android starting today in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay. Instagram said this is only a test run, but it falls in line with what parent company Facebook did when messaging was shut off on the social media site and transitioned over to Messenger in 2014.

“We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that,” Hemal Shah, an Instagram product manager, told The Verge. “Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own. We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app.”

The Direct app is a bit barren at the moment. The camera is active when you open the app, but you can pull down a screen to type a message. A profile screen is to the left, allowing you to adjust settings, move between accounts, or go to Instagram. A message inbox is to the right.

In trying out the app, The Verge did find four special filters that are not available in Instagram:

"One filter bleeps you at random while blurring your mouth, which you’ll appreciate if you’ve ever enjoyed Jimmy Kimmel’s unnecessary censorship videos. Another filter creates a live cut-out of your mouth and superimposes it over your actual mouth, making you look like an insane clown. A third filter creates an infinite video loop zooming in on your open mouth as multiple versions of your head swirl around you."

There is no official word from Instagram on when this test might roll out to other countries. The success of Messenger after its separation from Facebook shows it can be done, and could be boosted if Instagram adds different aspects to the app to keep it interesting.

Source and image: The Verge

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