It always sounds like big news when Facebook is ‘secretly’ working on a new standalone app, but experience has taught us that such apps often end up quietly shutting down – perhaps useful for experimental purposes, but not exactly making a dent in the mobile-social landscape. Slingshot, Riff, Rooms, Moments… Anyway, that’s useful context not to get over-excited about reports that Instagram may be getting a new spin-off app called Threads, developed by Facebook.

“Threads, which is designed as a companion app to Instagram, invites users to automatically share their location, speed, and battery life with friends, along with more typical text, photo, and video messages using Instagram’s creative tools,” reported The Verge. “The app, which is designed for sharing with your ‘close friends’ list on Instagram, is now being tested internally at Facebook.” Watch for at least 17 ‘Snapchat Killer’ headlines by tonight on this one.

The usual caveat: why make this a separate app rather than revamp the messaging features within Instagram itself? Although the traditional answer to that would be that fleshing out experimental ideas in a separate app before bringing them back to the main app when they’re stable isn’t such a bad idea. How influencers and other public figures (like musicians!) can make use of something like Threads remains to be seen.

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