One of the biggest drawbacks to posting media to Instagram was the app's lack of sharing features. Previously, this consisted of only two options: sharing publicly, or sharing privately. Today all of that is old news.
The company announced Instagram Direct this morning from an event here in NYC. IG Direct lets users share photos, videos, and texts with a single person, or a select group of up to 15 people. Now, if users want to share photos of their family cat with their siblings and cousins, they can do just that. Conversely, all those party pics can now be shared with friends, while staying out of sight from their parents. But why wouldn't users just text these photos, instead of using IG Direct? Because they can still use all of Instagram's filters. "Communication is not about photography, necessarily," CEO Kevin Systrom said. "If we were about photography we're built into cameras, but we're not, we're built into phones."
The new Instagram inbox button will be placed on the upper right hand corner of the app, and if you get a new message, you'll get a notification signal in that corner. Thankfully, you won't be getting spammed by users you don't know, since the app only allows the people you follow to send private messages.
The new feature is an obvious counter to Twitter's updated Direct Messaging feature, and Snapchat, which allows self-deleting photos and videos to be sent privately to a select group of people—except with Instagram, those messages won't be deleted after a few seconds. Yet, just like Snapchat, those photos can still be saved with a screenshot, so it's still just as important that people think twice before hitting the send button.
Systrom says that Instagram isn't turning into Snapchat, and that the company would rather keep photos saved rather than have them self-delete. "There's definitely a space for ephemerality (self-deleting) in general," he says. "Whether it's text or photos or videos, but Instagram is focused on capturing the world's moments. The important part in Instagram [Direct] is being able to go back to [photos] in order to have that conversation, and if they're not there anymore you can't have that conversation and see who has liked it. Communication is really core."
The update will be available on iOS and Android today.