Instagram has yet again taken a page from Snapchat and this time it is for a new standalone app.
The camera-based messaging app called Threads, allows users to stay connected to a select group of friends, and share automatic status updates with them based on a user’s movements throughout the day.
Instagram says that feature shares small pieces of context with friends but will not give away their exact location, can only be seen by selected contacts and is opt-in.
Instagram has previously been accused of aggressively targeting Snapchat and its popularity with teenage smartphone users – a demographic with which Snapchat remains one of the most commonly used social media platforms.
The new app will begin to roll out globally this week for both iOS and Android.
The automatic status updates can be chosen from a list of pre-made options – for example ‘studying’ or ‘on the move’, or can be created and personalized by the user to express what they are currently doing — similar to how the nostalgic AIM messenger status worked.
The standalone app is a companion to the main Instagram service, the firm said, and is based on the Close Friends feature of Instagram – a select list of contacts users can edit and then share content directly with.
The Facebook-owned company confirmed Threads users will only be able to message those contacts on their Close Friends list.
The rest of an account’s messaging content will continue to appear in the Instagram Direct section of the main Instagram app, the platform confirmed.