Facebook’s Zoom rival now works with Instagram, too. The update allows Instagram users to create Messenger Rooms from their Instagram Direct Inbox.
The new feature, which is starting to roll out to Instagram now, comes as Facebook has added a steady stream of new video-centric features amid a surge in usage during the coronavirus pandemic. But the arrival of Messenger Rooms on Instagram also marks one of the first messaging features meant to work across multiple Facebook services, and serves as yet another reminder of Facebook’s influence over the service.
For starters, in order to create a chat using Messenger Rooms, your Instagram account must be connected to a Facebook account, although one isn’t required to join another user’s room. This also forces users to use their Facebook accounts — real names and all — and the Messenger app, rather than Instagram’s in-app video chat.
Of course, once you’re in a room, there are features that Instagram’s chat doesn’t have, like face-flattering lighting filters and “immersive” backgrounds that can adapt to your surroundings. Messenger Rooms can also accommodate larger groups as it supports up to 50 participants (Instagram group video calls are limited to six).
Still, if you’re among those who prefer to spend time on Instagram rather than Facebook, it’s not difficult to imagine that Instagram’s video calls, which recently added co-watching features, might be more appealing.
But Facebook is also moving toward a future where all its messaging services are integrated, so Messenger Rooms could lay yet more groundwork for such a change. By giving Instagram users the option to easily switch to Messenger, it creates yet another link back to Facebook.