Last year, Instagram announced that it was withdrawing support for its standalone mobile messaging app called Direct, which allows users to quickly create messages and share them with friends. Soon after, the company launched Threads, a new messaging app that focuses on status updates and only communicates with those it has identified as its “close friends” on Instagram. These two messaging concepts are now merging. With the latest update from Threads, Instagram is once again offering the full inbox experience, he says.
The changes were noted in the latest update to the app and were quickly spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra and famous retro engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who are closely monitoring changes in popular social apps.
In the latest update, Threads now shows a two-tab inbox.
In the “Close Friends” section, you can continue messaging with your most frequent contacts as before. The new second tab, Everyone else, gives you access to your largest Instagram inbox. The app will continue to prioritize the Close Friends tab and its status will only be visible to close friends.
Instagram also tells us that, by default, Threads users will continue to receive notifications only for their close friends. This can now be adjusted in the application settings if you want to receive notifications for all messages.
What’s interesting is that these changes are being implemented very closely after a major update to the Instagram messaging platform.
Last week, Facebook introduced cross-app communication between Messenger and Instagram, among other features.
With this update, Instagram users can upgrade to a new messaging experience that includes the ability to change chat colors, reply with emoji, watch videos together, and close messages, etc. These “fun” features are there to trick users into accepting the update, which further immerses users in the Facebook universe by opening cross-platform messages. This means that updated users can use Instagram to message their Facebook friends.
With the changes to the threads, one has to wonder if Facebook now sees the standalone chat app as another potential entry point to its larger messaging platform.
Instagram says that is not the case today.
“Cross-app communication is an optional update for Instagram users and is not enabled for threads,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.
That doesn’t mean that the threads won’t be updated to offer some of the other changes that Instagram users can enjoy now if they want to improve their messaging experience in the future.
We even know that Instagram plans to bring some of these new features to Threads in the future. However, there is currently no precise timeline for this project.
This would supposedly mean connecting the Threads application on the backend to the new messaging infrastructure. If so, even if Facebook chose to use cross-app communication only for Instagram (and only for Messenger), it would connect to another main application, Threads, on the new messaging platform. This, in turn, could make it difficult to disconnect from apps if Facebook is forced to shut down when regulators monopolize it.
However, it is not clear if the threads are still connected to this infrastructure or if they will connect later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on.