Facebook promised that it would make messaging easier across all of its apps last year, and we've already seen evidence that the company was working on integrating Facebook Messenger with Instagram. The company made that move official at the end of September, introducing what it's calling a new Messenger experience on Instagram. And now, Instagram is adding a few more of the features initially promised, like Watch Together, chat themes, and vanish mode.

Watch Together allows you to tune into IGTV, Reels, movies, and TV shows with friends in real-time. You'll see each other in a video chat below the player, where you can comment and react. To get started, open a video chat, tap the media button in the bottom right corner, and select the TV & Movies tab.

Chat themes are pre-made themes you can ornate your chats with. Instagram highlights the TinyTAN theme, which is a "group of loveable characters created from the seven members of BTS." You can customize parts of the experience once you load up your preferred template. Themes can be enabled in individual chat settings by tapping Theme and selecting which one you want.

Vanish mode, which we covered more extensively in another post, is now also starting to roll out to Instagram. As the name implies, it's a Snapchat-like mode that automatically makes messages disappear once you've read them and left the chat.

All three features are rolling out to people in the US and "select other countries." They're available once you have the chance to enable Facebook Messenger in the Instagram app. Vanish mode will apparently be last in line, taking the longest time until it reaches everyone in the US, those "select other countries," and, after that, the EU.

If you're eager to get your hands on the new Messenger experience, you'll have to wait until it rolls out to you. Once it has, you'll notice that the flyer icon in the top right corner of the Instagram app has been switched out with the Facebook Messenger symbol. Tap it, and you'll be greeted by a prompt asking you if you'd like to upgrade your messaging experience. It's possible to postpone the switch in the beginning, but at some point, you'll be forced to use the new Instagram messenger. Specifically, the UI introduces a whole slew of features that are currently slowly rolling out, becoming available one after the other:

  • Communicate Across Apps: Seamlessly connect with friends and family across Instagram and Messenger by using either app to send messages and join video calls.
  • Watch Together: Enjoy watching videos on Facebook Watch, IGTV, Reels (coming soon!), TV shows, movies, and more with friends and family during a video call.
  • Vanish Mode: Choose a mode where seen messages disappear after they’re seen or when you close the chat.
  • Selfie Stickers: Create a series of boomerang stickers with your selfie to use in conversation.
  • Chat Colors: Personalize your chats with fun color gradients.
  • Custom Emoji Reactions: Create a shortcut of your favorite emojis to react quickly to messages from friends.
  • Forwarding: Easily share great content with up to five friends or groups.
  • Replies: Respond directly to a specific message in your chat and keep the conversation flowing.
  • Animated Message Effects: Add visual flair to your message with animated send effects.
  • Message Controls: Decide who can message you directly, and who can’t message you at all.
  • Enhanced Reporting and Blocking Updates: Now you can report full conversations in addition to single messages on Instagram, and receive proactive blocking suggestions across Instagram and Messenger when you add your accounts in the new Accounts Center.

The update won't force you to download the Messenger, and it also doesn't put a 1:1 Messenger clone into Instagram. Instagram DMs are still separate, but they've inherited a lot of features and looks from Messenger. Facebook writes: "The main change is that people using the Messenger app can now reach you on Instagram without you needing to download a new app, and vice versa."

Facebook has also revamped the privacy controls in Instagram and Messenger to accommodate the new cross-platform compatibility. You'll be able to choose who can contact you on which platform, and ask Facebook to block certain requests automatically, such as from strangers or friends of friends. Facebook has additionally specified that you don't need a Facebook account to talk to Messenger users on Instagram and vice versa.

The new messaging experience in Instagram is currently rolling out as part of a server-side switch, so it might take some time until the integration hits your account. It still makes sense to stay up to date with Instagram and Facebook Messenger as that might help you get the update faster — check the Play Store for updates, or get the latest release from APK Mirror (Instagram, Facebook Messenger).

Vanish mode, Watch Together, and chat themes rolling out

Article updated to reflect that three new features are starting to make their way into the app.

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