Instagram improves messaging experience with new features

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Meta has been on a roll this week, raining down a volley of new features on its messaging platforms. Earlier this week, WhatsApp made some much-needed improvements to the voicemail system. And a day before that, the Messenger app introduced support for Slack-like shortcuts. Today, Instagram unloaded a host of neat tricks for its direct message, or DM, section.

Borrowing a trick from Messenger, Instagram adds support for a shortcut that lets you send silent messages. Just type @silent before a message, and it will be delivered without sending a notification to the recipient’s phone. This feature is perfect for sharing eerie late-night eureka moments without waking the other person.

Instagram is also borrowing the group voting feature from Messenger. Thanks to the upgrade, users can now create a poll in their Instagram group chat. Another significant addition is the integration of music streaming services into Instagram DMs, which allows users to share a 30-second preview of a song with their friends. At the moment it works for Apple Music and Amazon Music, but Spotify will also be added to the mix soon.

The platform also pays some attention to the multitasking aspect. Users can now reply to a message without having to open the DM section. The idea is to allow users to browse their feed with minimal interruptions. New lo-fi theme with beautiful color gradient design is also coming to make chat backgrounds more beautiful.

Remember Android’s share sheet system which features a row of contacts at the top for quickly sharing content via platforms like WhatsApp? Meta does something similar on Instagram. You can now press and hold the share button below a post or reel to share it directly with a few selected close friends whose profile icons appear in a share bubble.

And just like Messenger again, the DM section on Instagram will now display a row of friends who are online and available for gossip. Instagram is rolling out the aforementioned features in a phased manner and some of them are also region-locked. European customers won’t have access to any of these features as the company has yet to enable its enhanced messaging experience in the region, but plans to do so at some undetermined point in the future are underway.

A graphic featuring three smartphone screens shows the song's preview feature on Instagram.

But there is a caveat. Users who cannot or do not want to activate the updated messaging experience will not be able to access some of the new features mentioned above. The company told TechCrunch that only song sharing, quick send, and the new lo-fi theme will be available for those stuck on the old DM system.

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