For years Facebook has been shamelessly copying Snapchat’s most popular features. In 2016, Instagram copied Snapchat’s popular “stories” product for posting photos and videos that disappear. This ripoff doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon because Facebook-owned Instagram has launched a new standalone messaging app called Threads. This new app launch is Facebook’s direct attempt to kill Snapchat.
The app is essentially another messaging app, with all the regular messaging features users would expect. It stands out from the crowd with its Status and Auto Status tools. Users will be able to share photos and videos with their “close friends list.” In case you didn’t know, “close friends list” is a feature introduced by Instagram in 2018 that let users share pictures, videos and message only with groups of people they’ve selected.
To get you started with Threads, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide on what exactly is Instagram’s new messaging app and how to use it. Let’s get to it.
Instagram’s Threads Messaging App
Setting up Treads
When you first download and open the app, you’ll have the opportunity to choose which account to use with Threads. On the next screen, you’ll be able to select your close friends in case you don’t have a “close friends” list on your Instagram account already.
You’ll also have the chance to turn on notifications just for the people you care about and to set up Auto Status (more on that later). You can give the app and icon their own skin by choosing one of the five built-in themes: Daylight, Twilight, Midnight, Aurora, Sunrise.
The new camera-focused messaging app has basically three main sections: Camera, Inbox, and Status Screen.
The camera, which is the default screen when you open the app, is the app core function. It let you send disappearing photos and videos to your close friends or to a specific person from your “close friends” list.
There’re no filters or augmented reality masks here, however, you can use the built-in drawing tools to draw and write on your photos. The app lets you create customizable shortcuts for your close friends, so you can access their profile picture right at the bottom of the camera screen.
You can allow the receiver to only view what your share once, to replay it or keep it in the chat. You’ll be notified when they play your message. Conversations that you have within the Threads app will remain also in the Instagram app, so you can continue accessing your chats in both apps. You can choose to save photos and videos you take using Threads to your phone’s camera roll or gallery.
The second section of Threads is the inbox, which is basically your direct messages from Instagram – but only for your “close friends” list. The Inbox component will give you a full-featured messaging experience. You’ll be able to take a picture, send GIFs and photos from your Library, and start a video call. The user interface is pretty much the same as Instagram’s. You can also create Groups chat for people only on your close friend list. Well, that’s pretty much it.
The third section is the Status screen, which is similar to AOL Instant Messenger away status message back in the day. Threads let you manually set an emoji as an away message to let close friends know what’s on your mind. To create a status, pick an emoji and choose a status from pre-made ones with their own text tag lines that Instagram has created. The app lets you also create a custom status that you can set up to be visible for a specific amount of time. You can choose from one to four hours.
There’s also the Auto Status, which requires the app to have continuous access to your phone’s location, movement, battery level, and network connection. This feature is off by default, but you can opt-in if you want. Instagram promises Facebook will not use your location information for ads and won’t store them on their servers. Your coordinates only stay on your device for a little while before it’s deleted.
The app will only use your location to provide context. Auto Status will update your status throughout the day without the need to manually update it. Only your close friends will see your status, according to Instagram.
Auto Status will match your exact location to specific places like home, work, bars, cafes, traveling out of town and more. So, for instance, it might use your location to show your friends you’re “🍝 Out to dinner,” or if you’re running, that you’re “🚗 On the move.” A typical scenario would be, if you were at a Starbucks, it would show a coffee cup emoji ☕️ next to your name. However, Threads doesn’t actually share your precise location through automatic status updates.
Threads is available to download today on iOS and Android. If this app takes off, Snapchat can expect its daily active users to reduce significantly. On the other hand, if it flops, Facebook will just shut it down like they have done in the past with apps with low usage. And Snapchat will be the ultimate winner here. Feel free to give Threads a go and let us know what you think.
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