Photo-sharing service Instagram has been beefing up its features in the past few months, which includes the introduction of video sharing that positioned it toe-to-toe with Vine. However, it seems Instagram can't have enough - there are reports going round that it is also planning to inject private messaging to its arsenal, as it sets up a head-on collision with social micro-networking services such as Snapchat. The new feature, if implemented, will allow Instagram's community of 200 million users to send images and videos directly to intended recipient without having to deal with the oggling public.

According to GigaOm, the instant messaging feature could be introduced before the end of 2013. Instagram, however, has not issued a statement about the said update.

"Well-placed sources tell us that the company is gearing up to launch new private messaging features inside its still red-hot photo and video sharing service. It is also experimenting with the idea of group messaging, our source tells us," Om Malik of GigaOm wrote.

"...my usual concern with any new Instagram upgrade and any new feature still and will always remain its effect on the experience. The app's simple and easy interface is the key differentiation for the service and any diversion from that core philosophy in the name of new features can be really detrimental," he added.

Malik also pointed out the good timing of the update if it will be rolled out just in time for the upcoming holidays when smartphones and tablets will be among the top items on shopping lists and a good opportunity for Instagram to attract more users and offer a new experience on its visual platform.

The rumors about the new feature of Instagram came leaked close on the heels of Facebook's $3 billion acquisition offer being spurned by Snapchat, the photo messaging app that self-destructs images of users after a designated time. Reportedly, Google was also interested in buying Snapchat.

Facebook is struggling to maintain its popularity among younger users, who reportedly are now finding Facebook boring, and are trying to find other interesting alternatives.

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