Software updates for mobile apps can be a gift and a curse. Sometimes they may benefit the user with better features; and other times they can bog down the experience. Recently, Facebook attempted to acquire Snapchat for a low sum of $3 billion and was shot down by the picture sharing tycoons. In the wake of said incident, the social media giant has found another route to capture Snapchat’s users by integrating their own form of Snapchat within Instagram. Learn more about this feature and how it affects everyone’s favorite app after the jump.
It was only a month ago when Snapchat turned down Facebook’s offer. And in a surprise turn of events – rather quickly I might add – Facebook has built the feature they desired within their own acquired app which they only paid $1 billion for. Now with Instagram Direct, users are able to send private photos or 15 second videos to each, other much like Snapchat.
Instagram Direct hasn’t effected the user experience much, and the interface is mostly the same. When you open Instagram on your mobile device, instead of a little refresh arrow on the top right there is a little inbox icon – in order to refresh now you pull down the most current image, much like for Facbeook or Twitter. Inside the inbox users can either send a message to followers or someone they are following as well as read private messages that have been sent or received.
What raises a red flag to me is the fact that users can private message each other without having to follow them back. However, testing this new feature myself, a friend said there is an option to deny the message once received. I assume once people complain enough, Facebook/Instagram will nix the idea of allowing users to private message users they are following but who may not be following back. I’m sure celebrities are being bombarded this instant with private messages they did not want to have to receive. Which brings me to my next point.
Sending a private photo or video message is very simple. First you take a picture or video regularly, add an Instagram filter, and then the next step is where Instagram borrows a page from Snapchat’s book. There is now a menu item above the photo caption text box. Users can either choose to upload the image to all of their followers like a regular update or send it as a direct message by selecting those you wish to see the image/video just like Snapchat. This is where Snapchat and Instagram users will find the greatest divide.
Once the image/video is sent, you can view it in the inbox. Unlike Snapchat, the images and videos sent as a direct message are reviewable again unless you want to delete them. Once the original uploader deletes the message it is gone forever. If you send the photo/video to multiple people, everyone can interact much like on a regular Instagram post; they can like it and add comments. Users can also x out of the image if they want no part of the conversation anymore. What makes this feature so beneficial is the marketing aspects for businesses.
There is no separate business accounts in Instagram. So businesses will be able to private message their followers with ease, which can be a good thing depending on the message. For example, say a restaurant you follow on Instagram notices you frequent their establishment. They can now send a personalized photo/video thanking you or even rewarding you for your business. But this can also be very annoying if companies begin to send out weekly spam that feels too commercial.
With Instagram Direct, one can assume you could also send x-rated images since it won’t be viewed or judged by the public – eat your heart out Anthony Weiner. Those on the receiving end of the photos can block or report the image, but this new feature definitely opens new doors that could benefit Snapchat’s auto-delete function. If someone sends a naughty photo on Instagram it’s out there until the user who sent it deletes it or if the person on the receiving end opts out. Now thanks to Instagram, dick pics have never looked more artistic.
You can follow me on the Twitter @TyRawrrnosaurus.