Instagram Tests Direct for a Stand-Alone Messaging App

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If you're a heavy Instagram user, you've probably noticed lots of small changes, new features, and A/B tests that mimic Snapchat's most popular features, such as a revamped direct messaging feature, face filters for stories, cartoony messaging stickers, and more.

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. Swiping right from the Messages screen in Direct brings you directly to the main Instagram app.

'Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own.

Facebook now operates two of the world's most popular messaging apps in Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp that both have more than a billion active users.

Instagram is preparing to soft-launch an Android app Direct, spinning off its Direct Messages into a standalone offering, The Verge reported Thursday. The camera is active when you open the app, but you can pull down a screen to type a message. And you don't have to send photos; you can also just send your a message through the app.

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The new app was first spotted by The Verge today.

The move feels strikingly similar to what parent company Facebook did when it separated the messaging experience outside the social network's main app three years ago.

As a messaging-first experience, Direct becomes Facebook's third service of its kind, beyond the aforementioned Messenger and WhatsApp.

Shah's statement follows the same reasoning Facebook used when it split Messenger off from the core Facebook app in 2014. You will be happy to know that for the new app, Instagram includes four new filters including one that censors your speech when you least expect it, and another that superimposes your mouth over your mouth (yes, it is as odd as it sounds). But as long as Direct is a part of Instagram, expanding the platform would get increasingly hard for the company.

While you can check out Instagram Direct's app page on Google Play, you will most likely not be able to download it quite yet. If you anxious this new app would make private messaging complicated, this proves it won't.

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