Messenger and Instagram gain cross-app group chats, new themes

Facebook continues to pull Instagram and Messenger closer together with a new change that lets you create group chats across both services. Alongside this upgrade, the company also added new chat themes, support for polls, and group typing indicators.

Facebook enables group chat creation across Messenger and Instagram.
Facebook

The company had previously allowed users parts of the world outside of Europe to merge their Instagram Direct and Facebook Messenger, allowing for cross-app communication and enabling features like themes and quote replies. This week’s updates build on that.

There are new chat themes featuring singer J Balvin and a cottagecore-inspired aesthetic. More substantially. you’ll now be able to create group chats for contacts who are on Instagram and Messenger. Facebook will also add more Messenger features to Instagram, including polling when in group chats. Picking out which bar to go to or which movie to see is going to be easier to do with the same easy-to-use polls the company had already introduced on Instagram. The final addition to the group messaging experience is the new group typing indicators. If you loved the “many people are typing” anxiety on Slack, you’ll love it on Instagram Direct too once this update rolls out.

Finally, Facebook is bringing its “Watch Together” feature to Instagram’s feed after being limited to Direct. This is a feature that works a lot like Apple’s SharePlay feature and builds on the watch party rush of 2020, allowing you to watch video content with your friends remotely when on a video call. The company first introduced it on Messenger (and later to Instagram Direct via Messenger integration) last year, and has been pushing its original content through the feature.  Today, it introduces new content from Cardi B and a virtual concert from Steve Aoki and Travis Barker.

Facebook is rolling this update out from Thursday, September 30 across both iOS and Android platforms. You’ll only be able to use them on Instagram if you have the Messenger and Instagram feature integration available and turned on, however.

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