Instagram Direct debuted in 2013 as a way to send photos and videos, well, directly to your friends on the photo sharing service. The Facebook-owned company has added more features to the system over the intervening years, like threaded messaging, disappearing messages and live video. Instagram Direct’s latest update adds two more features aimed at creating a more robust messaging service: non-square images and links.
When you send a permanent, non-disappearing photo to a buddy with Instagram Direct, you don’t have find the perfect square crop anymore. Simply grab a portrait or landscape oriented photo from your camera roll and let fly. Sounds a lot easier than uploading non-square photos in the regular Instagram feed. Also, when you send a link, phone number or address in Direct, your friend can tap through to launch the appropriate app to handle it, like Safari, the phone app or your contacts.
Instagram added more Snapchat-like features — disappearing photos and live video — to its Direct service in November 2016. It also bundled permanent and disappearing photos together this past April. These new additions might further encourage users to stay within the walled Instagram garden when chatting, instead of hopping over to apps like Snapchat. Landscape and portrait uploads are available on iOS now with Android to come later. Links, however, are available with the update on both platforms.