Instagram is testing its direct message feature for the web on mobile and on the desktop, according to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who tweeted a screenshot of the feature.
Currently, the desktop experience on Instagram is a minimal, pared-down version of the mobile app that shows little more than the feed. There’s still no direct way to upload photos, and the service is slow to add new features. Browser notification support was added only last September. Some features, such as the ability to upload stories, are restricted to the mobile app and mobile web only. Instagram has said it has “no plans to let users upload photos or stories from the desktop.” Direct messages coming to the web would be a huge step forward for the previously mobile-only app.
There are multiple reasons why this shift to the web could be happening now. Instagram has built a standalone messaging app called Direct, which it began testing in six countries in 2017, and the move to the desktop could be a sign that messaging has taken on increased importance to the Instagram team. The move could also have something to do with Facebook’s plans to consolidate Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram DMs into a single, unified platform. We’ve reached out to Instagram for comment, and will update when we hear back.