Instagram announced the launch of a new private photo sharing feature called Instagram Direct. It operates pretty much like the Instagram experience that people are used to, but lets users share photos with specific recipients.
"From how you capture photos and videos to the way you start conversations through likes and comments, we built Instagram Direct to feel natural to the Instagram experience you already know," the company explains. "When you open Instagram, you’ll now see a new icon in the top right corner of your home feed. Tap it to open your inbox where you’ll see photos and videos that people have sent to you. To send a photo or video to specific people, tap the camera button to enter the same simple photo or video capture and editing screens. At the top of the share screen, you’ll see the option to share with your followers ('Followers') or to send to specific people '“Direct'). To send using Direct, tap the names of the people you want to send your photo or video to, write your caption, tap 'send' and you’re done."
As with public photos, users will still be able to see who has liked their photos and see comments. It will also show who has seen the photo (or video).
Photos and videos sent to you appear immediately when you're following the person. If you're sent one from someone you're not following, it will appear as a request before you view it.
The feature is available today in updates for iOS and Android. As the Windows Phone app is in beta, you can expect it to appear there in a future update.
Facebook has been said to be trying to acquire Snapchat (for three times what it paid for Instagram, no less), and this could give the company a way to compete through an already popular app. We haven't heard much about its earlier attempt, Poke, lately.