Instagram is upping its game today with a new feature called Instagram Direct. Essentially, it allows users to share photos with specific users, whether it’d be a group of friends or a few of your family members. It’s basically like Snapchat, except the photos will be kept and not deleted after a few seconds.
While we wouldn’t call this feature “revolutionary” by any means, it does add a new layer to Instagram, when previously you could only share photos to your Instagram profile, where they could be seen by anyone. However, you can now send private photos to only certain people that you specify.
How it works is that you first take a photo like you would any other time using the Instagram app, and from the sharing screen, you’ll now have the option to share the photo with one of your Instagram friends directly (hence the name of the feature: Direct). You can even select multiple people to the send the photo to (rather than re-do the sharing process for each individual person).
Furthermore, you can send text messages back and forth about the photo you shared and even have a group conversation as well; this is most likely the feature where the messaging service rumors that we’ve been hearing about are coming into view.
There are some slight caveats, though. For instance, you can only send Instagram Direct photo messages to people you follow and those who follow you, but if someone sends you a photo and you happen not to follow that person, you’ll get a notification asking if you want to accept the receipt of the photo, rather than it just automatically showing up in your Instagram inbox. Plus, you can ignore people that send you direct photos and block them from ever sending you photos again, which can be handy.
Another caveat is that you can’t just send messages to someone, like how a messaging service works; you have to attached a photo or video to the message to send it, but it seems that won’t be too big of a deal for most Instagram users.
An update for Instagram that includes the new Direct feature will go live today for iPhone and Android users.