On Friday evening, several editors at The Verge across the country — on both iOS and Android devices — noticed an update screen popped up in Instagram’s mobile app with the message “There’s a New Way to Message on Instagram” with a list of features including a “new colorful look for your chats,” more emoji reactions, swipe-to-reply, and the big one: “chat with friends who use Facebook.”.
The executives write: “In our research, four out of five people who use messaging apps in the US say that spending more time connecting with friends and family on these apps is important to them, yet one out of three people sometimes find it difficult to remember where to find a certain conversation thread. With this update, it will be even easier to stay connected without thinking about which app to use to reach your friends and family. “
The integration of the two apps requires specific user consent to allow their accounts to be merged, so Facebook is offering new features as a carrot to encourage take-up. If they accept the update, users will be able to send “selfie stickers”, watch Instagram videos with friends during video calls, and send disappearing messages.
Facebook said the new features would be rolled out in “a few countries” immediately, and “globally soon”.There is also no timescale for the most controversial plans announced in Zuckerberg’s March 2019 blogpost: the integration of WhatsApp with Facebook Messenger and Instagram, and the decision to turn on end-to-end encryption for all conversations on the three platforms.
“We are still determining how cross-app communications will work with WhatsApp,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “WhatsApp will continue to remain a separate, end-to-end encrypted app at this time.”
The initial announcement was widely criticised as a perceived attempt to proactively protect Facebook from antitrust enforcement that could have forced to spin off WhatsApp or Instagram into separate companies. Zuckerberg argued it was a necessary change to the very heart of the company.
“If we do this well, we can create platforms for private sharing that could be even more important to people than the platforms we’ve already built to help people share and connect more openly,” he wrote.