Photo-sharing service Instagram is working on an spin-off messaging app called Direct, which could one day replace the built-in direct message service in the mainstream app.
According to a new report from The Verge, the Facebook-owned company today confirmed it is testing Direct, “a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram,” in six countries — Turkey, Italy, Israel, Portugal, Chile, and Uruguay.
“We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that,” said a company spokeswoman. “To make it easier and more fun for people to connect in this way, we are beginning to test Direct – a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram.”
Instagram’s motivations behind the split are similar to parent company Facebook’s decision to create Messenger — as a separate app, the messaging platform can integrate more features than what was possible while co-existing inside the same framework with the rest of the social network.
According to The Verge, users can swipe to the right in Direct to open Instagram, making the transition from one app to another easy. Screenshots of Direct provided by Instagram tout ways to “shoot and share fun messages faster” and “exclusive face filters, Boomerang, and Instagram creative tools.”
It’s unclear at this time whether Instagram plans to launch the Direct app globally. But if these tests are successful, Facebook may end up owning not one, not two, but three distinct messaging apps that have a rather huge number of users. Facebook already operates Messenger and WhatsApp chat apps, with each of them having more than a billion users.