Facebook Inc. this morning announced plans to roll out an integration that will enable users to send messages from Instagram to Messenger and vice versa.
The integration is part of a broader update that includes additional features such as self-deleting direct messages in Instagram. The enhancements advance a vision outlined by Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) last year to make the company’s chat apps a bigger strategic focus. At the time, Zuckerberg said that the goal is to transform the social network from “the digital equivalent of a town square” to “the digital equivalent of the living room.”
The cross-app messaging support announced today is the fruit of a major overhaul of Facebook’s backend infrastructure that started over 18 months ago. In early 2019, it was reported that the social network had thousands of engineers assigned to the project. Facebook was said to be planning to expand the Instagram and Messenger integration eventually by looping in WhatsApp as well.
The company’s internal research has found that “one out of three people sometimes find it difficult to remember where to find a certain conversation thread,” Facebook executives Adam Mosseri and Stan Chudnovsky wrote in the announcement. “With this update, it will be even easier to stay connected without thinking about which app to use to reach your friends and family.”
In its initial form, the integration is an optional Instagram update that users will have to agree to download. The feature comes bundled with multiple other enhancements to Instagram’s built-in messaging tool, including a “vanish mode” that allows users to have messages automatically deleted after a certain time period. Other additions include a new selection of emojis and the ability to change the default colors of the chat window.
Some of the new features rolled out to Instagram were already available on Messenger before. It’s another way Facebook is bringing the services closer together.
The social network’s initiative to link its disparate platforms more closely spans multiple areas. Today’s update follows the introduction of a new Accounts Center tool earlier this week that will enable users to post content to Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger from one place. Earlier, in August, the company said that customers will eventually need a Facebook account to use devices from its Oculus virtual reality headset line.
Such cross-platform integrations can improve the user experience in some ways, such as by reducing the need for consumers to juggle separate accounts. These integrations also have certain practical benefits for Facebook. Standardizing Instagram and Messenger on the same messaging infrastructure will remove the complexity associated with maintaining two separate backends, which should allow Facebook to free up some engineering resources.
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