In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Instagram has confirmed that it’s shutting down its standalone messaging app ‘Threads’, which it launched back in 2019, essentially as a Snapchat alternative for connecting close friends.
As you may or may not recall, Threads is a messaging app which was initially designed for maintaining connection with your Instagram inner circle, facilitating text, photo and video sharing among only those included on your Instagram 'close friends' list.
But then, in October last year, Instagram announced an update to Threads to include all of your Instagram messages, not just those from close friends, which essentially made it just like every other messaging app. The only variance with Threads now is its 'auto-status' option, which allocates an emoji status update for each user without them having to manual input such, by making an assumption of what each user might be up to at any given time based on their location, their movement, their phone’s battery level, etc.
So there’s not really much reason for people to be opening a separate messaging app, especially now that all of their Instagram and Messenger chats are already integrated, streamlining connection in two of its most popular messaging options (which WhatsApp also coming soon).
As such, it makes sense for Instagram to shut down Threads, which it’s now confirmed to TechCrunch amid various rumors online.
As per Instagram:
“We know that people care about connecting with their close friends, and we’ve seen this particularly over the past few years with the growth of messaging on Instagram. We’re now focusing our efforts on enhancing how you connect with close friends on Instagram, and deprecating the Threads app.”
Instagram further notes that it will be looking to bring the ‘fun and unique features’ of Threads to the main Instagram app, which will likely, eventually, include its auto-status option.
#Instagram is working on the ability to set a status that will be visible to friends for 24 hours ???? pic.twitter.com/4CONNcbju4— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) August 23, 2021
As spotted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Instagram is already working on this, and while this initial prototype doesn’t denote auto status as yet, that seems, logically, where it’s headed, which would essentially negate the need for Threads entirely.
It’s unlikely that the app is going to be missed by many.
In its first month after launch, Threads reached around 374k downloads, which is significantly down on Instagram's previous standalone apps, like IGTV and Boomerang, while a look at the app's performance on the App Annie charts since then suggests that Threads has struggled to gain any significant traction ever since. It’s likely that Threads has fewer than 100k users right now – and again, with Meta looking to integrate its messaging options, and facilitate more cross-app sharing, the existence of Threads really runs counter to the broader focus, pointing to its demise.
Instagram says that Threads will no longer be supported by the end of December, with alerts being issued to users in the coming weeks.
If you’re one of the few Threads users, it’s time to revert back to IG proper, or find another alternative for your close group chats (like, say, Snapchat).