Today Instagram has officially taken the wraps off of a brand photo-sending service called Instagram Direct, which will exist within the Instagram app as a way to send photos to up to fifteen select recipients.

So how exactly does Instagram Direct work? Starting in Instagram 5.0 (which rolls out today), you’ll find an icon at the top right corner of the home feed that will let you view your photo/video inbox. Sending private photos can be done from the top of the share screen, where you’ll now find options to send your content to either all your followers or to use the “direct” method to send it to specific people.

Instagram’s new ‘direct’ service clearly isn’t exactly like rival offerings such as Snapchat, but it’s obviously Instagram’s way of competing for the same piece of pie.

It’s important to note that you will only receive notifications for photos/videos from people that you are already following. Messages from people not following you will be put into a “pending” section, where you can choose whether or not to view them.

Although the Instagram Direct messages are in separate from your standard feed, the actual experience is pretty similar once you send or receive a photo. In other words, you can still comment and like photos just as you normally would.

Unlike programs such as Snapchat, that also means that any one you send a photo to will be able to see who else you shared it with. There’s also a built-in system that lets you know when someone has viewed the content you sent them. Instagram’s new ‘direct’ service clearly isn’t exactly like rival offerings such as Snapchat, but it’s obviously Instagram’s way of competing for the same piece of pie.

Instagram 5.0 doesn’t yet appear to be available for download right now, but it should be launching for Android sometime later today. It’s unclear what else is new in Instagram 5.0 aside from the ‘direct’ service, though we’ll be sure to update as soon as we learn more.

Update: Instagram 5.0 has now landed on Google Play. Still no word on what all is different, besides the new Instagram Direct service.

Andrew Grush
Andrew is dedicated to reporting on the latest developments in the world of Android, and is very passionate about mobile technology and technological innovation in general. While he appreciates Android in all of its forms, he prefers a clean stock experience when possible and currently rocks a Nexus 5. Andrew also loves to engage with his readers, and welcomes well-thought-out conversations and responses in the comments section!
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