Instant messaging in some form or another has been around since the dawn of man and woman (slight exaggeration), though don't tell that to Instagram
, which yesterday held a major press event to unveil Instagram Direct, its own take on sending messages to friends. While Instagram was super excited to add a feature that's found on just about every major social app for mobile devices, it was a bit of a letdown to members of the press hoping for something bigger.
To be fair, this could end up being a big deal for Instagram. At minimum, it's a much needed feature if it's to compete with services like SnapChat
and WhatsApp, though rather than blaze a trail into new territory, Instagram is just now catching up to these alternative services with this function.
In any event, Instagram Direct allows users to snap a photo -- either an external shot (or video) or the ever-popular selfie -- and then send it off to a single person or a group of close friends along with a message attached. Once you've sent it off, you'll be able to find out who's seen your photo or video, see which recipients liked it, and watch them comment in real-time.
"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. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments."
We agree with that sentiment, but if Instagram is to become the de-facto standard in photo sharing and mobile communication, it's going to need to come up with features on its own rather than simply play catch-up to the competition.