Instagram and Facebook Messenger are getting their own version of ephemeral messaging with the introduction of Vanish Mode. Disappearing messages were once a Snapchat signature, although now versions of this exist across platforms including WhatsApp and Telegram. Instagram has also brought changes to its homepage. The Reels tab, which was launched recently in India, is now being expanded globally, and a Shop button is also being added to the navigation bar and will push the notification button for likes and comments to the top-right corner of the homepage.
Facebook had announced Vanish Mode back in September. It’s now coming to Messenger and Instagram and will let users send messages on DMs without it staying in the chat history. You can swipe up on the existing chat thread to turn on this feature. A simple second swipe up can bring you back to regular chat mode. Facebook noted that only people you’re connected with can use vanish mode in a chat. It also doesn’t seem to apply to group chats, and will only work in private, one-on-one chats. Instagram already has a feature which allows users to send photos and videos that disappear once they have been viewed and the addition of Vanish mode for texts makes its messaging functionality even more similar to Snapchat.
The new ephemeral messaging feature on Instagram and Messenger differs from WhatsApp’s recently introduced ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature. While those messages can be screenshotted, and are readable for seven days, Vanish Mode chats will disappear after they have been viewed by the receiver, the sender will get a notification if someone takes a screenshot of the chat before it vanishes.
Vanish mode is now available on Messenger in the US and a bunch of other countries. It will roll out on Instagram and in other countries soon.
As mentioned above, Instagram is also going through a considerable redesign and its head Adam Mosseri has written a blogpost to explain the changes. The platform hopes that the Reels tab will give people an opportunity to “share their creativity with the world and have a chance to break out and find an audience”. The shops tab, on the other hand, will feature personalised recommendations, editors’ pick curated by Instagram’s @shop channel, shoppable videos, and new product collections, for a closer integration with brands. The tech giant has said that the Shop tab would make it easier for users to get inspired by creators, shop through Instagram, and support small businesses.
Mosseri said that Instagram’s home screen hadn’t been updated in a big way for quite a while, but the way people create and enjoy culture has changed. “The biggest risk to Instagram is not that we change too fast, but that we don’t change and become irrelevant,” Mosseri said in the post.
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