Instagram on Thursday launched a new standalone app called Threads. It is a “camera-first” messaging app aimed at interacting more with your close friends. The app lets you quickly share text, photos, stories, and videos with your “Close friends” list on Instagram. If you don’t have a list set up on Instagram, you can create a new one directly from Threads as well.
While Threads is Instagram’s new home for messaging with your close friends, you can still just use Instagram Direct in the main app. In addition to messages from your regular followers and friends, any ongoing conversations with close friends in the Threads app will show up on Instagram Direct as well.
Another swing at Snapchat
Threads is Facebook and Instagram’s latest move to take on Snapchat. By default, Threads opens the camera and lets you capture photos and videos without any filter. Captured content can only be sent to your close friends. You also get customizable shortcuts for your close friends at the bottom of the camera screen, so you can share what you’re doing in just a few taps. Capture a snap, tap on a friend’s profile photo, and swipe up to send.
In addition to sharing pictures, videos, and text messages, Threads also has something called “Status”. True to its name, Status lets you quickly tell your close friends what you’re up to. You can select from the many pre-populated statuses that Instagram has created, or type out your own to indicate whether you’re at home studying or gaming, or are on the move. Your status will be visible to your friends for up to four hours.
Threads also offers a bit controversial version of its Status feature. Called Auto Status, this feature literally updates your status automatically. Whether you’re at home, at the gym, at a cafe sipping a cup of coffee, or at the movies, Threads will tell your close friends all. The app uses your phone’s location, movement, battery level, and network connection to determine where you are, or what you may be doing.
Of course, this raises a serious privacy concern, and that’s why Instagram is keeping Auto Status a completely opt-in feature. Users can turn it off anytime. Also, Instagram says Threads will not share your precise location, but rather use the information to create “context”. The location info is not stored on the Instagram servers as well. The information, however, will be stored on your device for a limited time.
Threads is rolling out now on Android and iOS globally.