Instagram is one of the most popular social networks on the planet but, for all its fame, it remains oddly tied to phones. Never mind the fact that its web-based desktop experience is a few steps from being deplorable, the mobile app seems frozen in a world where people use smartphones in just one and only one way. The Facebook-owned network is very slowly changing, like the standalone Windows desktop app that finally lets you fully upload photos barely two years ago. Its next trick, it seems, is to finally let IG users chat with each other not on their phone but on their desktop web browser.
Instagram has a very interesting approach to messaging between its users. It launched a standalone Direct mobile app just for chatting but unceremoniously killed it off earlier this year. Then just last week it launched a new Threads app that was like its Snapchat counterpart, except only for those you mark as Close Friends.
Despite all the movement on mobile, Instagram has yet to make it possible for users to communicate without their phones. Also earlier this year, clues of a web-based interface for Instagram DMs surfaced courtesy of social network sleuth Jane Manchun Wong. That seems to have died out only to be resurrected in slightly more refined form yet again.
Wong managed to get “Instagram Direct” for the web working for her, revealing a user interface not that different from Facebook Messenger’s own dedicated web UI. Normally it would show contacts on a left panel and the actual message thread in the main section of the page. Showing the thread information, however, reveals a third panel that pushes the main content to the center.
That this Instagram Direct for desktops exists is probably no longer in question. What’s left now is wondering when IG will actually roll it out. Given how long it even conceded to having a pared-down version of Instagram for browsers, it probably won’t happen anytime soon.