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Facebook has begun merging Instagram and Messenger direct messages

Instagram and Messenger are getting cosier than ever as part of Facebook’s plan to integrate direct messages across some of its most popular social networking apps.

Instagram is asking users to update their accounts to access a number of new chat features, including the ability to “chat with friends who use Facebook”. Once updated, the app swaps out the previous arrow-shaped DM icon in the top right corner for a speech bubble/lightning bolt combo you might recognise as the Messenger logo.

The pop-up, which was first spotted by The Verge, explains that “even if you don’t update, you can receive message requests from Facebook accounts”. However, Instagram reportedly has yet to add a feature that allows Instagram users to reach out to Facebook accounts.

Related: How to delete an Instagram account permanently

Other new chat features coming to Instagram with this update include a colourful new interface, the ability to react to messages with any emoji and a feature that allows users to swipe to reply to messages – the last of which can already be done on both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Facebook first revealed plans to unify Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp with cross-platform messaging in January of 2019. The company originally planned to complete the process by the end of 2019 or early 2020.

Messenger’s Head of Consumer Product Asha Sharma spoke to Trusted Reviews about the new feature ahead of Facebook’s F8 conference last May.

Related: How to keep using Messenger without a Facebook account

“I think there’s a set of utilities that all of our messaging apps should have in order to interoperate, like encryption and maybe message replies, but there’s also a set of features that make your app distinct”, said Sharma at the time.

“It’s why you pick the app. There will still be differences [between Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram], and they’ll continue to look different and feel different, but if you send a message from Messenger to WhatsApp, it should be a high quality experience”.

For now, this feature is still being tested. We’ll have to wait to see if Facebook continues to bring more Messenger-inspired features to Instagram.

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