Instagram announced Thursday its new “Instagram Direct” messaging service. The new features allow users to share photos and videos with a select group of friends instead of their entire base of followers.
A new icon on the home screen allows users to view media sent directly to them from their followers similar to an inbox. Direct messages from people you follow appear immediately in your inbox, as opposed to those you receive from someone you do not follow which will appear as a request. You have the option to accept the request for viewing or deny the message.
These direct messages will appear only in your inbox but will be not contained within your feed. Each recipient of the direct message will be able to comment and interact with one another.
To send multimedia users now have the choice to send to all followers or direct to a specific subgroup; up to 15 friends. Users can add filters and captions to the pictures and videos similar to Snapchat.
The new feature also tracks who has viewed the photos and can be shared to your various other accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
Once a user deletes a direct message they have sent it is removed from Instagram along with all comments from users.
The speculation is that this new messaging service is in response to the growing popularity of Snapchat among kids and teens. Similarly Twitter announced picture sharing within their direct messaging on Tuesday.
The new features are available today in both the App Store and Google Play.