According to product manager Hemal Shah, Instagram Direct will allow the company to build a better messaging experience for users than they would get through the normal Instagram app.
The app is now available in six countries, no word on whether it will be released globally but if all goes well most likely soon. And knowing Facebook, Direct will probably follow the same route. 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.
The app will further strengthen Instagram's position as one of the most used photo-sharing apps in the world.
The reason for the split is the notion that private messaging does not fit comfortably within an app which is designed for broadcasting images and messages publicly.
A spokesperson for Instagram says, "We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that".
The only specifics we have, if you can even call them specifics, is that the app will launch globally next year after Instagram has worked out the bugs and responded to user feedback. Installing Direct will give you access to exclusive filters, and the usual Instagram features like Boomerang.
"With hundreds of millions of people using Instagram Direct, today we're announcing a test of a standalone Direct app". The app consists of just three screens.
Personally, I don't mind Direct much. You can take a photo or video with the front and rear cameras, apply face filters and masks, and even write text. When you're on Instagram, you can swipe right to reveal the Direct logo, and if you continue swiping, you'll be redirected to the Direct app.
In March 2017, Facebook introduced Facebook Stories along with two other new Snapchat-like features - Facebook Camera and Direct.
In August 2016, Instagram released a near-perfect copy of Snapchat Stories, in the form of Instagram Stories. Whether that happens later or not remains to be seen but it makes sense for it to be within the messaging app.
What do you think of the idea of a standalone Direct app?