Instagram’s new messaging app for close friends is called Threads

Instagram is launching a new dedicated app for messaging, because apparently that particular market is not saturated enough.

To be fair, though, Instagram’s effort is designed to be just about your close friends and family, rather than a stock app to message everyone. It will be a companion app to the stock Instagram experience, and it will allow users to quickly share photos, text, and videos to their “close friends”. And since this is a close friends list, the app will also share your location and status to those friends on a regular basis.

Instagram announced today the arrival of the new messaging app called Threads. It starts with the camera, which is the first thing a user will see when they open the app. There aren’t any filters to choose from, so photos and videos will be a bit more straightforward compared to the stock Instagram app. There are customizable shortcuts to make sharing content even easier, even allowing users to put select contacts (two or three of them) at the bottom of the camera app.

Sharing content is fast and easy: take the photo or video, tap the picture of the contact you want to send that content to, and then swipe up.

The inbox in the Threads app is similar to the Direct Messages inbox in the Instagram app. Instagram says that the close friends list in Instagram is typically between one person and one dozen contacts, so people keep their lists pretty small. This inbox will only present messages from the people in that close friends list.

There is a dedicated status screen, too. This will work similarly to how services like AOL used to work back in the day, giving you a real-time look to see if your close friends are available to talk in that moment or not. Users will be able to select an emoji and type out a few words, or select from pre-populated status messages, to let people know if they’re able to talk or not.

There is also an “auto status” feature, too, which is described as such:

…or turn on Auto Status  (? On the move), which automatically shares little bits of context on where you are without giving away your coordinates. Only your close friends will see your status, and it’s completely opt-in.

If you turn it on, Auto Status is informed by your device, like the charging state of your phone “? Low battery,” or from location services, which you’ll need to allow in your phone settings. Turning on location services is required for Auto Status to identify and share the general category of the place you’re at, like “? At the beach,” “? On the move” or “? At home.” For example, the Auto Status “ ☕ At a cafe” is set when you’re at a coffee shop, but it won’t share the name of the cafe or the address. Auto Status is completely opt-in and you can change or turn it off at any time.

If you do decide to use the “auto status” feature, here’s how Instagram says it will use your data via a separate blog post on privacy:

If you enable Auto Status, Threads will request your location, movement, battery level and network connection from your phone in order to determine what context to share. For example, Auto Status might use your precise location to show your friends that you’re “☕At a cafe.”  Or Auto Status might detect that you’re biking and set your status to “? On the Move.” Before this is enabled, you’ll be told what information Auto Status is requesting and will be asked to specifically agree.  Auto Status will not share your precise location with your friends, and when Threads sends location information to our server to look up locations, it’s not stored there – this information is only stored on your device for a limited time. It is also deleted if you remove Threads.

Threads is available beginning today across the globe for both iOS and Android. For what it’s worth, Instagram also says that Instagram Direct isn’t going away just because Threads is seeing its public launch today.

Do you think you’ll give it a shot?