Mark Zuckerberg wants to unify the company’s separate messaging services. Not everyone agrees, especially considering the privacy nightmare it could lead to. The social networking giant, however, could be attacking the problem from a slightly different angle. There are now signs that Instagram is playing around with a version of its Direct messaging feature for web browsers on desktops. And while this might sound like a great standalone feature, it could also be just the opening salvo for a series of changes.
Despite its immense popularity, Instagram has been terribly slow to grow out of its mobile shell. On the one hand, it makes sense considering its primary use case is taking photos and instantly uploading them to the network. There are times and cases, however, that its limitations make it unbearable, reducing its potential to be used anywhere and everywhere.
It wasn’t until recently that Instagram even got a web version but, even then, it’s only good for browsing and searching. Even its Windows desktop app only got the ability to upload photos last year or so. And while that might make little sense on the desktop, sending private messages to friends wouldn’t be out of place.
Instagram has been toying around with separating its Direct Messaging feature into a standalone product much like Facebook and Messenger. It hasn’t completely divorced them yet, but this experimental feature could be the next big step in that direction. According to Jane Manchun Wong, popular for reverse engineering a lot of upcoming features, Instagram is testing Direct messages on web browsers, both for mobile web and desktops.
Given Instagram’s history with non-mobile features, it’s almost too suspicious that it would suddenly be working on this. Especially when users have been clamoring for higher priority feature requests. While those users probably won’t complain about being given access to direct messages whatever device they’re own, they also shouldn’t be surprised if Facebook starts its unification campaign with this.