Instagram wants to be your phone, not just your camera. And it wants to be better at it than Snapchat. Files buried in Instagram and the Instagram Direct standalone app’s Android Application Packages (APKs) are files and icons for “Call” and “Video Call”. APKs often show files for unreleased features that are lying dormant in an app waiting to be surfaced when the company is ready to launch them. So it appears Instagram is preparing to launch audio and video calling within its Direct messaging system.
The addition of voice and video calling would make Instagram a better chat alternative to Snapchat, which first launched video calling in 2014 and enhanced the feature with easier access plus audio and video notes in 2016.
Instagram’s competition has contributed to stagnation in the growth of Snapchat Stories sharing, but messaging remains beloved by Snap’s younger users. While Instagram combined ephemeral and permanent image sharing in Direct in April 2017, and launched the standalone Direct app last year, messaging still feels bolted on to Messenger. It was only added in 2013, three years after Instagram started as just a feed.