Instagram is continuing to develop its standalone messaging app, Threads. Last month, the company modified the app to make it possible for users to message everyone, instead of just "close friends," as its other messaging app, Direct, once did. Today, Instagram is releasing a redesigned version of the Threads app with updated navigation and a Status tab, as well as support for posting photos and videos to your Instagram Story.
The changes address some of Threads' shortcomings in usability. Though the app offered a way to update your Status or even automatically update it, based on your location, it was difficult to move between the different sections of the app.
The redesign attempts to make it easier for Threads users to view and interact with friends' statuses and their Stories, or quickly switch back to the Camera interface or their messaging inbox, through a new navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. This navigation change, which adds the Status tab, will go live globally starting on November 19, says Instagram.
The more recent change to the inbox, which added a new tab for "Everyone Else," is also now globally available, as of today's update.
In addition, Instagram says Threads users can now take a photo or video and share it out to their Instagram Story, in addition to only their Close Friends Story directly in the Threads app. This began rolling out last month, with the launch of the separate inbox tabs. Everyone should now has this feature available, too.
These changes represent another step away from Threads being an app only meant to be used to keep with close friends.
The updates to Threads follow a period of overhaul for Facebook's family of mobile messaging apps, including Messenger and Instagram itself, which saw another set of updates to its own inbox in recent weeks. Yesterday, Facebook announced that more features that were a part of the big overhaul of the Instagram messaging experience had become available, including an expanded co-watching feature, Watch Together, which now lets users watch IGTV, Reels and TV shows together in real-time over video chat.
It also rolled out chat themes, including a new one that featured characters representing the seven members of BTS. The company in September had announced cross-app communication with Messenger for users who upgraded their messaging experience on Instagram. That update had included the ability to change your chat color, react with any emoji, among other new features. Vanish mode is still to come to Instagram, but should arrive soon, Facebook said.
These changes, focused on Facebook's flagship apps, may have left some wondering what would become of Threads -- an app that hasn't gone mainstream. As of the time of writing, the app was ranked No. 66 in the Photo & Video category on the U.S. App Store, and No. 1,031 Overall. But as these new efforts show, Instagram is continuing to tweak the user experience on Threads, in an effort to cater to those often use Instagram for messaging.
To be clear, some users may have had access to the new features ahead of today's announcement, but they're now broadly available.