Quick: Make a list of social apps that don't offer messaging. If you can think of any, the list is surely dwindling. Even apps that began as video- or photo-sharing networks are adding messaging functionality, just to cover their bases. Video-looping app Vine is entering the crowded field with a new feature: Vine Messages.
In a new update for iOS and Android, Vine now allows you to direct message videos to multiple friends. It's almost exactly like Instagram Direct, but instead of creating a group conversation, Vine creates multiple one-on-one chats. You can also send text messages, which you can't do on Instagram, and you can send Vines videos and text messages to friends who don't have the app — another feature Instagram lacks.
How it works: Tap on the new Messages option in the navigation tray. Your inbox is divided into "friends" and "other," sort of like on Facebook. You can adjust settings to receive messages only from people you follow on Vine by turning off your "other" inbox altogether. Compose a new message from your inbox or by tapping "message" at the top of your friend's Vine profile. The update also lets you customize your profile background color, if you're into that sort of thing.
Vine lets you quickly respond to a message by pushing talk to shoot a video — when you release, the video disappears into the ether of your friend's inbox. A new wave of apps has tried to make video messaging as easy and simple as texting, and some (like Snapchat) have succeeded. Vine probably won't grab any new users with this new feature, but it will entertain users for awhile — but then again, so did Instagram Direct, and now the private photo-sharing capability is but a footnote.
Here's the thing: People already have messaging apps that they love. Those messaging apps are now worth billions of dollars. Vine, Instagram, and even Twitter can add all the messaging capabilities they want, but that ship has sailed. Facebook isn't giving up on its stand-alone Messenger app, but also hasn't said how many people actively use it.
But one thing is for certain: "VM it to me" has a nicer ring than "Instagram Direct it to me."
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