As expected, today Instagram announced its latest service enhancement called "Instagram Direct", which is said to be a new way to send photo and video messages to friends. Over the past three years, the Instagram community has grown to over 150 million people capturing and sharing moments all around the globe. As Instagram has grown (and was taken-over by Facebook), it has evolved not only into a community of photographers, but also into a means of visual communication. From a photo of the daily coffee (#CoffeeTweet FTW) to a sunrise shared from the top of a mountain hike, every Instagram moment contains something the poster find special - something broadcasted to followers.
There are, however, moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller group of people; an inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment or even just one more photo of your new puppy. Like the recently announced Twitter update, Instagram Direct helps you share these moments to selected friends and followers only.
From how you capture photos and videos to the way you start conversations through likes and comments, Instagram built Instagram Direct to feel natural to the Instagram experience users already know. When Instagram is opened, users will now see a new icon in the top right corner of the home feed. Tapping it opens the inbox where you'll see photos and videos that people have sent to you. To send a photo or video to specific people, tap the camera button to enter the same simple photo or video capture and editing screens. At the top of the share screen, you'll see the option to share with your followers ("Followers") or to send to specific people ("Direct"). To send using Direct, tap the names of the people you want to send your photo or video to, write your caption, tap "send" and you're done.
After sending, you'll be able to find out who's seen your photo or video, see who's liked it and watch your recipients commenting in real time as the conversation unfolds.
Photos and videos that you receive from people you follow will appear immediately. If someone you're not following sends you a photo or video on Instagram, it will go to your requests so you can decide if you want to view it.
Sounds pretty much like Snapchat, right? Well, not at all because Instagram Direct photos and videos don't expire but will stay in the stream - at least until the sender deleted them manually.
Instagram for Android and iOS version 5.0 will be available today for download from Google Play and Apple's App Store. Not yet available is Instagram Direct for Windows Phone but nevertheless, Instagram said it's in Beta and users should stay tuned for future updates.
Cheers ~ Arne