In January 2019, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was looking to merge all of the company’s messaging platforms — Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram — into one.
Now, the company took a big step toward that goal. On Wednesday, Instagram started rolling out the option to connect Instagram direct messages with Messenger. Yes, this means you can send messages to Messenger people from Instagram, and the other way around.
The new feature, which will show up to some users when they open the app (see image below), isn’t obligatory — you can still keep your Messenger and Instagram DMs separate if you so desire.
However, if you do update, the somewhat simple messaging experience on Instagram will become very similar to Messenger. This means Instagram users will be getting features such as message forwarding and customizing chat threads with custom colors and nicknames. They’re also getting a bunch of new features, including selfie stickers, Watch Together (which lets you watch trending videos with friends), and vanish mode, which enables you to set messages to automatically disappear after a certain time. Facebook says some features will hit Instagram first and arrive on Messenger soon after that.
The merge makes it easier for people using just one of those platforms to reach out and contact people on the other platform, without the need to download a separate app. Note that messages and calls from Instagram to Instagram users will stay in the Instagram app.
In his remarks from early 2019, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned end-to-end encryption as one of key benefits of merging all of Facebook’s messaging platforms together. (WhatsApp and Messenger already support end-to-end encryption, but Instagram does not.) However, Facebook did not mention encryption as part of this update. According to Wired, the company plans to add end-to-end encryption to Instagram in the future, but there’s no clear timeline yet.
Facebook will be introducing this update to users over the next few months.