Facebook has started flipping the switch on integrating the chat systems for Instagram and Messenger. On Friday evening, several editors at The Verge across the country — on both iOS and Android devices — noticed an update screen popped up in Instagram’s mobile app with the message “There’s a New Way to Message on Instagram” with a list of features including a “new colorful look for your chats,” more emoji reactions, swipe-to-reply, and the big one: “chat with friends who use Facebook.”
Once you hit update, the regular DM icon in the top right of Instagram is replaced by the Facebook Messenger logo. Chats on Instagram are indeed more colorful than before, with the sender’s messages shifting between blue and purple as you scroll. However, at least for right now, it’s still not possible to message Facebook users from Instagram.
Facebook has made clear its plans to unify the messaging platforms of its hugely popular apps to allow cross-messaging among Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Facebook was said to be rebuilding the underlying infrastructure so users who were on only one of its apps could connect to others using different Facebook apps. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also said he wants the system to be end-to-end encrypted. By integrating its most popular apps, Facebook may be able to compete more directly with Apple’s iMessage.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed it was testing the experience. “A small set of people were able to update to a new test experience for Instagram messaging,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. “We hope they enjoy the experience and we are looking forward to testing it in other countries so we can keep learning from this.”
UPDATE August 17th 11:35AM ET: Added confirmation and comment from Facebook spokesperson