Instagram has unveiled a new messaging app called Threads, which allows you to message a select group of close friends in a separate, well, ‘thread’ to the main app.
There’s not a lot of information about exactly how this will work yet, but the company says the new camera-based app (which has similarities to Snapchat), allows users to stay connected to a specific group of friends, and share status updates with them based on their “movements” throughout the day.
Threads will let users set something called an Auto Status, which will automatically share “little bits of context on where you are without giving away your coordinates.”
You can choose these status updates from a list of pre-made options – for example “studying” or “on the move” or you can create and personalise them to broadcast what you’re up to in a bit more detail – again, to close friends only.
The app will also share information with the group about whether a user’s phone is low on battery life and the status of their network connection, according to the company’s statement in a blog.
Threads will begin to roll out globally this week. The standalone app is a companion to the main Instagram app, the firm said, and is based on the Close Friends feature of Instagram – a select list of contacts users can edit and then share content directly with.
The Facebook-owned company confirmed Threads users will only be able to message those contacts on their Close Friends list. The rest of an account’s messaging content will continue to appear in the Instagram Direct section of the main Instagram app, the platform confirmed.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg previously said that private messaging is a key part of the company’s future. However, the company has faced repeated suggestions it is competing with Snapchat when introducing new features.
The social networking giant and its wider family of apps – which also includes WhatsApp – introduced Stories, the chronological collection of pictures and videos which appear on user’s profile for 24 hours, after Snapchat achieved success with the format.