When you have a strong reaction to a friends' Instagram Story, words don't always cut it. That's why Instagram is introducing a new, more visual way to reply to Stories. Starting today, you'll be able to convey your sense of awe or jealousy with a photo or video.
If the user you are replying to has message replies enabled, you'll see a camera icon along the bottom of Story you are watching. Tap the camera and you'll be taken to a screen that looks identical to the one you see when creating your own Story post. You can snap a photo — or record a boomerang or video — using the usual Story creative tools, including stickers and face filters. With this new feature, you'll automatically see a sticker that is a thumbnail of the post you are replying to. You can resize the story sticker or move it around as you see fit. The only downside is that if you don't want the thumbnail there, you can't remove it.
Your friend will see the reply in their Instagram inbox, accessible via the Direct icon in the upper right-hand corner of the main feed. (No one else replying to the story will see your reply.) Like other disappearing photo and video replies through Direct, yours will vanish after it has been viewed. As the sender, you'll be notified if someone takes a screenshot of your reply.
The opportunity to reply to Stories with photo and video can be a more intimate and playful way to communicate how a post really makes you feel, but it's also important to be aware of your privacy settings. If you don't want just anyone sending you video or photo replies, go to your Instagram settings, tap Story Settings, and limit replies to people you follow or turn off message replies altogether.
Today's update adds to a slew of other changes Instagram has recently made to the direct messaging options of the app. The most major and noticeable change was in April, when a redesigned version of Direct launched with a message replay tool.
If Instagram is trying to become the new iMessage, today's visual addition should help that cause.