Hands-On: Here’s Your First Look at Instagram’s Direct Messaging App [Download APK]

A report from earlier today said Instagram was gearing up to introduce a dedicated app for its Direct messaging service, and now an APK of the app has been published by the folks at APK Mirror. Currently being tested in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay, the app separates itself from the main Instagram experinece while still tying in pretty closely.

The first thing you’ll notice in the app is the camera UI. When tapping its icon, you’ll be greeted by a very familiar interface. You can take a photo or video with the front and rear cameras, apply face filters and masks, and even write text. A swipe down in this pane will reveal a text field with a gradient background in case you just wanna type something up for someone. Overall, when this app gets released, you should feel right at home with it if you’ve ever used Instagram Stories.

Swiping to the right presents the left-most pane which displays your profile and some additional settings, while swiping left gets you access to your direct messages. It looks exactly like Direct does on Instagram already so you shouldn’t experience a learning curve here, either. Swiping again to the left will even present you with the main Instagram app. In turn, swiping to the left from your main Instagram feed will present you with the Direct messaging app with cool animations.

In our early testing, we didn’t experience anything that might become a problem for users such as clunkiness or poor integration with the main Instagram experience. In fact, it’s pretty pleasurable. The only real downside is you’ll have to install two apps to get the same functionality that’s currently present in one app. But if Direct doesn’t stray too far off from where it sits now, having two separate apps might be forgivable.