The plans Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially revealed in January 2019 to integrate the messaging services of Instagram, Messenger From Facebook and WhatsApp took a significant step forward with the company’s move Wednesday to add some of Messenger’s top features to Instagram Direct.
The social network confirmed in August that it was testing the integration, with a spokesperson saying at the time, “A small set of people were able to update to a new test experience for Instagram messaging. We hope they enjoy the experience and we are looking forward to testing it in other countries so we can keep learning from this.”
WhatsApp was not part of Wednesday’s news, with Facebook technology communications manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Alexandru Voica saying in a tweet, “Right now, we are focused on cross-application communications Messenger and Instagram. We are still determining how cross-app communications will work with WhatsApp. WhatsApp will continue to remain a separate, end-to-end encrypted app at this time.”
Facebook said people send over 100 billion messages via its family of apps every day, and its research found that four out of five messaging app users in the U.S. believe spending more time connecting with friends and family via those apps is important to them, but one out of three respondents often found it difficult to remember which apps they held certain conversations on.
The features being introduced Wednesday will begin rolling out on Instagram and Messenger in a few countries—some on Instagram first and Messenger later, and vice versa for others—with plans to expand globally soon.
Instagram users can choose to update immediately to the new experience, after which they will be able to seamlessly connect across Instagram and Messenger via one-to-one messages and video calls.
People have full control over where they receive messages and calls—in chats, in message requests or not at all—and inboxes are not being merged, with messages and calls remaining in the app they originated from.
The social network explained, “The main change is that people using the Messenger app can now reach you on Instagram without you needing to download a new app, and vice versa.”
Facebook accounts are not required to update to the new Messenger experience on Instagram.
Stan Chudnovsky and Adam Mosseri, heads of Messenger and Instagram, respectively, said in a Newsroom post, “People are communicating in private spaces now more than ever. More than 1 billion people already use Messenger as a place to share, hang out and express themselves with family and friends. That’s why we’re connecting the Messenger and Instagram experience to bring some of the best Messenger features to Instagram—so you have access to the best messaging experience, no matter which app you use.”
A list of features that were detailed Wednesday and will soon be added to the new Messenger experience on Instagram follows.
People can seamlessly connect with friends and family across both platforms by using either app to send messages or join video calls.
The Watch Together feature, which was introduced earlier this month, will enable people to watch videos simultaneously during video calls from sources including Facebook Watch, IGTV, Instagram Reels, movies and television shows.
A new vanish mode enables users to set messages to automatically disappear after they have been seen or when the chat is closed.
Selfie stickers can be added to conversations, and Facebook described them as a hybrid of Boomerangs, emojis and selfies.
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