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Instagram is following in the footsteps of its parent company Facebook by launching a separate app just for messaging. 

On Thursday, Instagram introduced the world to Threads, a direct messaging platform that lets users privately swap photos and videos with “close friends.” The new Snapchat rival is positioned to help you stay connected with your best friends all day long, according to Instagram.

“We’ve heard that you want an easier way to keep up with your friends throughout the day – especially when you don’t have the time to send a photo or have a conversation,” the photo-sharing app said in a blog post. Threads is supposed to be the “fastest” way to “share what you’re doing in just two taps.”

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The standalone app is introducing two primary features for iOS and Android users.

One feature lets you create a “status” so your friends know if you’re studying or some other task that requires your attention. The other tool called “Auto Status” will use your location data to automatically share “little bits of context on where you are without giving away your coordinates.” For example, it can tell your friends if you’re driving or at the gym. 

Threads offers a new, dedicated home for your private conversations. (Photo: Instagram)

The app also prevents you from getting DMs from random people by only including followers who appear in your Instagram Close Friends list. 

“We hope that Threads can bring you a little closer to the people you care about,” Instagram said. 

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For now, messages from your close friends list will appear in both the Threads app and your regular DMs. (Photo: Instagram)

How ‘Threads’ works

When you launch the “Threads from Instagram” app for the first time you’ll get to pick the people you’re open to chatting with. Once you’re all set up, your phone’s camera will immediately open every time you launch the app, just like on Snapchat. 

After you snap a photo or a video, you can decide whether to share it with your entire Close Friends list or with specific people. Instagram stressed that the new app was created with privacy in mind, so everything is “completely opt-in.”

Both Instagram and Facebook are known for copying some of Snapchat’s features. One of the most notable was the Stories format which quickly became popular among Instagram users. Stories disappear after a certain amount of time. 

Facebook also followed in Snapchat’s footsteps when it introduced QR codes and selfie masks to users. 

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/10/04/instagram-launched-threads-messaging-app-works-like-snapchat/3862689002/