Instagram tests standalone messaging app

Instagram founder opens up on feature battle with Snapchat
Instagram founder opens up on feature battle with Snapchat

Soon you may have yet another way to privately message friends.

Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app called Direct exclusively for sharing private messages, photos and videos with your friends.

The app is similar to what private messaging is like on Instagram already, but it opens directly to the camera instead of your list of messages, similar to Snapchat.

It also has unique camera filters not available on Instagram.

The company confirmed to CNN Tech it is testing Direct in Turkey, Uruguay, Chile, Portugal, Italy and Israel. It's expected to roll out broadly next year, but there is no definitive timeline yet.

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Instagram added private messaging to its app in 2013.

It's unclear whether Direct will fully replace the Instagram inbox. Users who download Direct will see their Instagram inbox disappear, but it comes back when the messaging-only app is deleted.

Instagram's latest move follows parent company Facebook's decision to remove private chats from its main app. In 2014, Facebook (FB) forced users to download Messenger in order to privately message Facebook friends on mobile -- an effort that was widely criticized. But the app now has over one billion monthly active users.

It's likely Instagram will receive some of the same backlash -- users may not want to have to download yet another app.

Facebook continues to expand its mobile footprint with messaging apps. The company recently launched a private chat app for children ages 6 to 12.

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