After starting out as a simple way for sharing photos with friends, family, and random followers, Instagram has grown into a fairly bloated app these days.
Direct is now available for download as part of a test for Android and iOS in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay, and the reason for this move is to get more people using Instagram's direct messaging service while letting the core Instagram app be a place to share your photos and videos with the entire world. When users install Direct, the inbox from the main Instagram app will disappear.
The Verge reports that Direct is being tested on both iOS and Android in six countries: Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay. When you open Direct, it goes straight to the camera - perhaps in an effort to condition you into creating and sharing content. If Direct does become a standalone messaging app, parent company Facebook will now have three messaging apps under it.
As The Verge highlights, this could be the first step in removing messaging features from the core Instagram app.
Direct opens to the camera app (much like Snapchat).
So why is Instagram experimenting with a standalone messaging app? Since Instagram is also positioning Direct as a camera-first app, it also comes with four exclusive filters which aren't available in the main Instagram app. Swiping to the left pane will get you access to your profile and settings, while swiping to the right will get you your list of conversations.
The Direct app also comes with a feature that lets users switch to the main Instagram app.
When Facebook split Messenger off into its own standalone app, it had about 500 million monthly active users.
By creating the standalone Direct app, Instagram is doing the same thing that Facebook did with Messenger.
You hated Facebook a few years ago when it removed Messenger functionality from the main app, only to launch a standalone messaging app that you've probably ended up using all the time.