The photo app is adding live video and new messaging features that allow users to privately share disappearing messages outside of Stories, the company announced Tuesday.
The new messaging features, which are beginning to roll out now, essentially make Instagram Direct a lot more like Snapchat in that you can send disappearing photo and video messages to a friend, or groups of friends using the Stories camera.
Just like Snapchat, the photos and videos you send to friends will disappear after they see them, though there are no time limits for how long they can be viewed in a single sitting. Instagram will even notify you if someone takes a screenshot or replays your message. Sound familiar?
To help you distinguish between disappearing direct messages and normal chats, Instagram is putting an outline around the icons for similar to how Stories are displayed at the top of your main feed.
That's because the app's live videos are also ephemeral. You'll be able to find live video in two places on Instagram: in Stories and in a new section of "explore." But in both cases, live videos will only appear during the broadcast. Once the broadcaster ends the stream, the video will disappear from the app completely.
Likewise, you can share live video from the Stories camera by swiping over to the new "live" section. Once you start, Instagram will send a push notification to some — but not all — of your followers based on who the app detects will be most interested in your stream (if you post notifications on you'll also see alerts for live video.)
While it may seem counterintuitive for Instagram to add live video, which has potential to compete with Facebook Live, to its app, the company appears to be banking on the ephemerality of Instagram's video drawing a different audience than those broadcasting to Facebook.
In other words: Instagram's update (surprise!) seems squarely aimed at attracting eyeballs away from Snapchat rather than Facebook.
Since introducing Stories, which the company basically acknowledged was a play for Snapchat, the photo app has steadily introduced new features that make it more and more like Snapchat. What's more, it's a strategy that would appear to be working — at least more so than Facebook's attempts to emulate Snapchat in its main app.
The app has already managed to draw more than 100 million users a day to Stories (that's about one-third of its daily active user base). Adding live video to the mix only stands to increase the numbers — especially if some of the app's more influential users begin to adopt the feature.