Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Instagram Direct

How do you message someone in 2013? Do you send them an email, like a pleb? Or perhaps you might fire up iMessage, Snapchat, WhatsApp, BBM, Twitter DMs, Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook, Kik, or one of the countless other messaging apps you may have on your phone.

Is that not enough? Well, Instagram is launching one, too. In such a crowded field, how is this app different from every other messaging app? Brian Heater, Engadget:

You can send photos and videos with text, but not text alone, naturally. Images and videos, [Kevin] Systrom added, is what the new feature is all about. According to Systrom, the new feature is all about “connecting people around moments.” Once a friend looks at the image, you’ll see a check mark next to it. If they like it, you’ll see a heart.

It’s the Instagram experience, complete with filters and “Likes”, but among just a few of your friends. I’m not sure if that’s enough of a differentiator, but it’s a fairly bold move.

Oh, yeah, and the Instagram icon still looks out of place on the iPhone.

Update: Casey Johnston of Ars Technica reports that senders can delete photos from recipients’ feeds:

Instagram Direct not only leaves the detonation button in the hands of the sender, but the act of deleting a photo interrupts the recipient’s viewing of the photo. For example, say Jimmy sends John an Instagram Direct photo of a hot dog. John opens the photo to view it, and the read receipt on the photo notifies Jimmy that John has opened it. If Jimmy swipes the message to delete it from his inbox as John gazes upon the hot dog, John’s viewing experience will be interrupted by a “This photo has been deleted” dialog. The photo is also no longer listed in John’s inbox. If Jimmy hadn’t deleted the photo, John could not himself delete it, only “hide” it in his inbox.

What if they simply added a timer? This is one of a few reasons why I think Snapchat is vastly overvalued.