Instagram today is rolling out over a half dozen new messaging features, following promises late last year that its DM (direct message) inbox would get a significant upgrade in 2022. The changes include the ability to share music previews in DMs, the ability to send a message silently, the ability to see who’s online to chat with, the ability to reply to messages while you browse your feed and more.
The company says the work is part of its larger efforts to improve how users connect and share with friends. It also comes on the heels of Instagram’s launch of chronological feed options, Following and Favorites, which allow users to see ranked posts without the use of algorithms. The Favorites feed allows users to hand-select a list of their closest friends or favorite creators to keep closer track of, while the Following option simply sorts posts in chronological order.
Now Instagram is turning its attention to the inbox. Today’s changes include the following:
- Music sharing: Instagram will integrate with Apple Music, Amazon Music and, soon, Spotify, to allow users to share 30-second song previews in chats.
- Reply while browsing: The app will allow you to reply to new messages while browsing their Feed, without having to go to the inbox and lose your place.
- Quick sending: You can now tap and hold the share button to quickly reshare posts to your closest four friends.
- Status: At the top of your inbox, you can now see who’s free to chat with, similar to Messenger.
- Silent messages: You can opt to send messages to friends without bothering them — like when you know they’re busy or asleep. To do so, you’ll add “@silent” to your message.
- Lo-fi chat theme: A new theme designed to make conversations feel more personal, which features a cityscape scene and a cat.
- Polls: You can now use the Poll sticker to create a poll directly in the group chat.
We should note that some of these new features require users to upgrade to Instagram’s upgraded messaging experience first introduced in fall 2020, allowing for cross-app communication between Instagram and Messenger. As part of this upgrade, Instagram’s inbox received several more features, including the ability to change the chat color, react with emojis, co-watch videos and more. The company confirmed to us that only music sharing, the new chat theme and the quick-send features will work if users haven’t yet opted-in to the upgraded messaging experience.
The DM update follows Instagram’s decision to close down its companion messaging app called Threads in December 2021. The company said at the time it planned to bring Threads’ unique features to the main Instagram app in the future. Instagram also explained that consolidating its efforts around messaging in one app made more sense, in terms of time and resources.
Instagram included messaging as a key area of focus for 2022, alongside other priorities, like video, controls and creator monetization efforts. In the same update where Instagram head Adam Mosseri proclaimed in December that Instagram was “no longer a photo-sharing app,” he also spoke about the company’s plans for private communications. Messaging is “the primary way people connect online at this point,” he said. “We think Instagram can be the best place for people to connect with their friends about their interests, and Instagram is to embrace the fact that messaging is that primary form of communication,” Mosseri explained.
The Instagram inbox isn’t the only Meta-owned messaging product being upgraded this week. Just yesterday, Messenger introduced Slack-like “@everyone” functionality that will notify all participants in a chat about a new message, and other shortcuts like a “/silent” feature, similar to Instagram’s “@silent,” and more. WhatsApp, meanwhile, upgraded its voice message functionality with several new features yesterday, as well.
Instagram says its new DM features will be available in select countries at launch, but will expand globally in time.