It’s been a fairly big year for Instagram. Ok, so, maybe the photo sharing service will never have as big a year as 2012, when it was bought up by Facebook for $1 billion, but 2013 has been no slouch either. Indeed, while Instagram’s maneuvers in recent months haven’t been as exciting as its rise to prominence and subsequent acquisition, they’re still critical to the service’s survival.
The debut of an Instagram app for Windows Phone, for example, opens the service up to a new potential user base, while Instagram’s recent addition of ads in user feeds is a new revenue source. However, these actions were somewhat expected, while Instagram’s latest move, the launch of a new service called Instagram Direct, is a bit of a surprise.
According to the official Instagram blog, Instagram Direct is meant for the “moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller group of people.” Strictly speaking, Direct isn’t its own service, as it has been added right into the Instagram app we all know and love (iOS and Android users have access to Direct right now, while Windows Phone users can expect its inclusion at some point in the future), but its focus on exclusion and privacy make it counter to Instagram’s usual “share everything with everyone” mode of operation.
To access Instagram Direct, users need only look for the new “Direct” button at the top of the share screen, which allows for sharing photos and videos with specific people. After direct photos and videos are sent, users can see who’s seen their media, as well as who liked or commented on it. For recipients of direct Instagram media, there’s now an inbox button on the top right corner of the Instagram home feed.
Edited by Blaise McNamee