Instagram Is Pulling the Plug on Its Stand-Alone Instagram Direct App

Conversations will automatically be moved to the main app’s messaging feature

The Instagram Direct app for the iPhone Instagram/iTunes App Store
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Instagram introduced a stand-alone Instagram Direct application in December 2017, but the app does not look like it will survive June 2019.

Users of the stand-alone messaging app began seeing the following notification: “The Direct app is going away. In the coming month, we’ll no longer be supporting the Direct app. Your conversations will automatically move over to Instagram, so you don’t need to do anything.”

An Instagram spokesperson confirmed the demise of the app, saying, “We’re rolling back the test of the standalone Direct app. We’re focused on continuing to make Instagram Direct the best place for fun conversations with your friends.”

The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network introduced its Instagram Direct messaging feature in December 2013.

The Direct app debuted in six countries in December 2017: Uruguay, Chile, Turkey, Israel, Italy and Portugal.

Instagram said at the time, “We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that. To make it easier and more fun for people to connect in this way, we are beginning to test Direct—a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram.”

And Instagram product manager Hemal Shah told Casey Newton of The Verge, “Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own. We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, stand-alone app.”

It was unclear how many more markets the Direct app was released in, but the languages section on its iTunes App Store listing contains well over six: Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

The last update for the iOS version of the app took place last Dec. 22, but according to its Google Play listing, the Android app was updated April 26.

Instagram never took the drastic step of removing messaging features from its flagship app and making them available exclusively through the stand-alone direct app, as it did with the flagship Facebook app and Messenger.

Facebook Messenger debuted as a stand-alone app in August 2011, and in April 2014, messaging features were removed from the main Facebook app, basically forcing users to download Messenger. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.