Instagram is testing out a new direct messaging standalone app that will allow users to create and share stories, as well as gain access to exclusive filters, Boomerang and other creative tools.
According to The Verge, the app is currently only available in Uruguay, Chile, Turkey, Italy, Portugal and Israel.
“We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that,” the company said about the test. “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.”
After multiple redesigns, Instagram’s direct messaging had accumulated 375 million monthly users by April of this year. The company has also seen growth of its Instagram stories, which allow users to send quick replies to friends’ messages.
Right now, the direct messaging app consists of only three screens. Like Snapchat, it opens to the camera. To the left of the camera is a profile screen that lets you access settings, switch accounts and navigate to various corners of Instagram. To the right is the inbox of messages.
This new app is Instagram’s latest attempt to compete with Snapchat. In fact, TechCrunch reported earlier this year that the launch of Instagram Stories had resulted in a reduced usage of Snapchat Stories. Instagram Direct, which could be seen as a more private way to have one-to-one conversations with other users, could have the same effect on Snapchat’s direct messaging.