Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it no secret that he wants all of the company’s apps to be one big happy family. However, that’s easier said than done, especially considering that many people who use Instagram, Facebook’s crown jewel, don’t want to go anywhere near the big blue app. It may be a little bit harder to stay away in the near future, though.
The Verge reports that on Friday, Facebook apparently began rolling out an update that integrates its Instagram and Facebook Messenger chat systems in the U.S. The new integration was announced quietly via a cheerful pop-up message that appeared to users when they opened Instagram on their phones on iOS and Android.
“There’s a new way to message on Instagram,” the message read, according to the Verge.
It also described the new features that would accompany this integration. These purportedly include a new colorful look for your chats, the ability to react (to messages, I imagine) with any emoji, the ability to swipe to reply to messages and the possibility of chatting with people who use Facebook.
For those of you who are alarmed, do not fear, at least not right now. Facebook is apparently not forcing users to update Instagram immediately. It’s not clear how long users will be able to delay this integration, although it stands to reason that they will probably be forced to do so eventually.
However, if these features sound interesting to you and you do decide to update now, you’ll see that Instagram’s typical DM icon in the upper right corner of the app has changed. Per the Verge, this icon has been replaced with the Messenger logo, except for the colors, which fit in with Instagram’s design.
The chats in Instagram DM are apparently indeed more colorful. Messages shift from blue to purple, which is kind of hard to imagine. A user on Twitter shared screenshots of what this looks like, which you can see below.
I personally don’t understand why Facebook decided to do this color gradient thing. I mean, blue is not a color I associate with Instagram, although I just analyzed the app’s icon on my phone and I think I see a hint of blue at the very top. When I think of blue, I think of Facebook, which is maybe the point.
One feature is notably absent at the moment: the ability to message users on Facebook from Instagram. Since it was announced in the message Instagram users saw in the app, it’s likely this will roll out soon.
Allowing cross-messaging between Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp has been part of Zuckerberg’s master plan for some time. Although each of apps will remain standalone, Facebook is working on integrating their underlying technical infrastructure. This means that people who only use one of Facebook’s apps could communicate with others in its empire, even if they don’t use the same app.
This is also a way for Facebook to directly compete with Apple, which has iMessage, and Google’s apps.
As part of the integration effort, Facebook is also incorporating end-to-end encryption in all of the apps. When the news broke of its plans in 2019, the company said that it wanted to “build the best messaging experiences” it could and “make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”
I don’t know about you all, but the first thing I thought was, “Oh God, Facebook is invading Instagram.” I have accounts on both apps, but have definitely used Instagram more in recent years. Something tells me that my reaction was tame compared to the people on Instagram that don’t like Facebook at all and consider it to be “uncool” and overrun with Boomers.
Well now, those people sure not going to like seeing Messenger’s flagship icon in the corner, always reminding them that one of their favorite apps belongs to Facebook. But after a while, they will probably get over it. Facebook is just that entwined in our lives, for better or worse.