Facebook brings chat themes, new features to Instagram and Messenger
Social media giant Facebook has unveiled multiple new theming features across its messaging services, including Messenger, Instagram, and Messenger Kids. Functional improvements include visual replies, read receipts, improved audio recording tools, and an updated archive feature on Instagram. These features have already begun rolling out to users around the world via recent updates. Here's everything you need to know about them.
New Star Wars theme for Messenger and Instagram chats
Facebook has introduced new visual themes for chats on Messenger and Instagram based on Star Wars and Netflix's new show called Selena: The Series. To enable the new themes, open a chat and navigate to the chat settings. Then, tap Theme and select an option. SocialMediaToday reported that Facebook ran similar themes earlier, but they didn't become common offerings tied to large-scale promotional campaigns.
New Messenger stickers introduced to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders
Another cosmetic addition is four new camera stickers for Messenger and Messenger Kids to celebrate "the diversity and impact of Asian and Pacific Islanders (API)." Facebook even developed a sticker reference guide to "help parents have more in-depth conversations with their kids around API cultures." Additionally, Facebook finally remembered that Instagram is a visual-first platform. So, it added visual replies to Instagram DMs.
WhatsApp-like read receipts now added to Instagram DMs
Visual replies allow you to reply to a photo/video with your own photo/video, just like Snapchat. The feature is currently only available on iOS. Facebook says an Android equivalent is in the works. Another improvement is the inclusion of read receipts for Instagram DMs. Exactly like on WhatsApp, you can now tell when your Instagram DM was read by the recipient.
Recording voice messages, archiving chats made easier on Instagram
Since Clubhouse caught on, audio has taken center stage on social media. Facebook has made it easier to send voice messages on Instagram. The small functional improvement swaps the voice recorder button's press-and-hold functionality with tap-to-record. Lastly, Instagram DMs can now be archived easily by swiping left on the chat. This feature has existed on Gmail's mobile app for many years now.
Cosmetic refresh aimed to keep users hooked given Facebook's controversies
It is evidently clear that none of these improvements are uniquely new features. We have all seen them in a similar form on other rival platforms. Until Facebook finds the next big social media industry trend to mimic, these cosmetic tweaks and minor improvements should keep users hooked while the company continues to sell their data to advertisers and scammers.