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Instagram enhances messaging experience with new features

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

Borrowing a trick from Messenger, Instagram is adding support for a shortcut that lets you send silent messages. Just type @silent before a message, and it will be delivered without pushing a notification on the recipient’s phone. This feature is perfect for sharing weird late-night eureka moments without waking up 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 meaningful addition is the integration of music streaming services in Instagram DMs, which lets users 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.

A graphic featuring three smartphone displays shows the quick send feature on Instagram.

The platform is also paying some attention to the multitasking aspect. Users can now reply to reply to a message without having to open the DMs section. The idea is to let users browse their feed with minimal interruptions. A new lo-fi theme with a beautiful color gradient design is also arriving to make the chat backgrounds look good.

Remember the share sheet system in Android that has a row of contacts at the top to quickly share content via platforms like WhatsApp? Meta is pulling off something similar on Instagram. You can now tap and hold the share button below a post or Reel to directly share it with a select few close friends whose profile icons appear in a share bubble.

And just like Messenger once again, the DM section on Instagram will now show 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 region-locked, too. European customers won’t have access to any of these features as the company has yet to enable its upgraded messaging experience in the region, but plans to do so at some unspecified point in the future are in the works.

A graphic featuring three smartphone displays shows the song preview feature on Instagram.

But there’s a caveat. Users who can’t or won’t enable the updated messaging experience won’t be able to access some of the new features mentioned above. The company has told TechCrunch that only song sharing, quick send, and the fresh lo-fi theme will be available to those stuck on the legacy DM system.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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