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Instagram testing a stand-alone messaging app called Direct

08 December 2017

If a user in one of those countries downloads Direct, their inbox from the main app goes away and is replaced by this new standalone app for private messaging with other Instagram users.

Speaking to The Verge, Hemal Shah, a product manager at Instagram, explained: 'We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that. The app that's been rumored since early 2017 is said to become available in six test markets on both Android and iOS starting later today, with Instagram reportedly bringing it to Italy, Portugal, Israel, Uruguay, Chile, and Turkey. With this version, when users install Direct, the inbox icon (the little airplane in the upper righthand corner) disappears from Instagram and can only be accessed in Direct.

Instagram is testing the new standalone app in only a handful of countries right now and there is no word on when a global launch will happen.

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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. And knowing Facebook, Direct will probably follow the same route. Instagram Direct will borrow another page out of Snapchat's playbook: It will open directly to the camera first in order to encourage sharing.

It also has unique camera filters not available on Instagram.

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

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The photo sharing app also expects video to continue to grow on its platform, as mobile devices are expected to account for 72 per cent of all online video viewing by 2019.

"With hundreds of millions of people using Instagram Direct, today we're announcing a test of a standalone Direct app". Just like Snapchat, its default screen is your phone's front-facing viewfinder.

The first thing you'll notice in the app is the camera UI. Opening the app, you will see camera similar to Snapchat. In January, TechCrunch reported that the launch of Instagram Stories had resulted in lower usage of Snapchat Stories.

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Instagram added private messaging to its app in 2013.

Instagram testing a stand-alone messaging app called Direct