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Instagram takes on Twitter’s direct messages with these new features

Pictures appear on the smartphone photoPictures appear on the smartphone photo
Instagram.Photograph by Thomas Coex — AFP/Getty Images

Not to be outdone by Twitter, which has been polishing up its private messaging feature, Instagram is rolling out updates to its own version of the service.

On Tuesday, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app unveiled a suite of new capabilities for its private messaging feature, now available on iOS and Android. They include threaded messages (instead of sending a new message to the same person), the ability to name group chats, a quick camera button, emoji and stickers, and the ability to share a public photo, hasghtag results page, and location in a private message.

And if this all sounds familiar, it’s because Twitter’s (TWTR) direct messaging feature already does all of this. The bitter social media rivalry continues.

To be fair, Instagram does have another good reason to add new capabilities: 85 million of its 300 million users send private messages every month, it revealed in a blog post announcing the updates. It also said that 40% of comments on public photos tag other users.

With the rise of quasi-private messaging services like Snapchat, and Facebook (FB) turning a lot of its attention to its Messenger app, it was only a matter of time before Twitter, and now Instagram, did the same.