Instagram is getting another new feature: being able to send voice messages. Until now, the direct message section of the photo-sharing app has been limited to texts, photos, and videos.

Users can now send walkie-talkie style sound clips within Instagram DMs. To use the feature, simply open a thread, hold down the new microphone icon, and record a brief message. Releasing the button will automatically send the recording. If the user wants to delete it, they have to slide the icon over to the trash can button without releasing their finger.

The messages appear as an audio waveform that recipients can listen to and replay. Voice messages can be up to a minute long, stay permanent unlike Instagram Stories, and are available on both one-on-one and group chats.

Instagram Direct Voice Messages

"Talk the way you want to be heard, whether by whispering what you're up to or shouting a compliment," Instagram announced in a tweet. The feature is live on both iOS and Android.

The option to send voice messages seems to be an extension of the video calling feature Instagram added in June, but without the video, of course. Why Instagram didn't add the feature much earlier remains unexplained, but it now has to compete with another messaging service who have long offered such a functionality, including Viber, Zello, and Telegram. Add to that Facebook-owned platforms, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. To note, Facebook also owns Instagram.

With walkie-talkie voice messaging, Instagram could become a more appealing chat app for drivers or people on the move who want to have a more dynamic messaging option but don't necessarily want to pay the data for long audio or video calls. More importantly, the feature deepens Facebook's stake in the voice market. The company has long taken a keen interest in voice platforms, first with its voice over IP back in 2013 up to its Aloha voice control system that works on the Portal video chat screen.

Voice Platforms

Voice messages are fast becoming the preferred method of communication on a bunch of messaging platforms, and as such, Instagram's new feature is likely a huge boon to many users who want the added intimacy of hearing someone's voice rather than just reading plain text.

Instagram is available on Android and iOS.

Thoughts on voice messages finally coming to Instagram? Do you think it's a useful feature for a photo-sharing app to have? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound them off in the comments section below!

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