Editing and applying filters to photos might be the more eye-catching part of Instagram, but the service’s main purpose is sharing media socially. While Instagram is great for publicly posting your photos, it has never been famous as a personal social network. Lack of privacy controls and an overly simplistic news feed has made it difficult for users to create posts for a targeted audiences. Other social networks differ from Instagram in this regard, as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ all have some form of personal messaging. Until now, it was not possible to make private posts aimed at your Instagram friends, but this longstanding issue has finally been resolved. Thanks to the Instagram ‘Direct’ mode, users can post photos that are visible only to some handpicked people. These Direct posts come complete with their ‘seen’ receipts, and an elaborate commenting system.
To see the big change, just create a new post in the app. You are sure to notice that the sharing screen is divided into two tabs. If you just want to make a public post the old-fashioned way, stay in the ‘Followers’ tab and fill in the required fields. To create a ‘Direct’ post, swipe to the left. For all Direct photos, users must select their target audience manually from an available list of people they follow.
It is possible to send a Direct post to just one person, or you even select all the people you follow. Once done, hit the green ‘Send To’ button at the bottom. Instagram’s Direct posts have a section of their own in the app, which you can access by hitting the top-right corner of the main screen. Once in this section, users can view past posts and make new ones with ease.
Within Direct posts, you can tell whether your photo has been viewed by a particular recipient simply by looking at their Profile Picture bubble. If the bubble is greyed out, the message still hasn’t been seen. You and your friends can also leave comments on individual posts. To remove a Direct photo, hit the three-dot icon in the bottom-right corner and choose the appropriate option.
Apart from the Direct feature, Instagram’s latest update hasn’t changed the app much otherwise. The UI looks almost untouched, and performance doesn’t seen to be impacted significantly either. The update, like Instagram itself, is available as a free download for both Android and iOS.