Instagram Threads from Meta will launch one of its most requested features today: web access while signed in. The business claims Threads users can post, check their feed, and interact with posts from the desktop at launch, but the experience won’t be identical to the mobile app.
Web users cannot change their profile or submit threads to Instagram DMs. Another recent update was aimed to entice more Instagram users to try Threads as engagement dropped after a buzzy launch.
We hear the Threads team is adding functionality to bring the web app up to mobile in the coming weeks.
Despite its drawbacks, web-based Threads could be a game-changer for Twitter/X converts. Users had requested web support since the beginning, save for a reverse chronological Following feed, which Threads delivered in July.
The firm stated online support was on the roadmap but didn’t say when, like many Threads users. Last week, Instagram head Adam Mosseri teased “We’re close on web,” in response to a user request for desktop posting. Monday’s Wall Street Journal revelation that web support was coming this week fueled the fire.
Mosseri claimed Instagram Threads had been testing an internal web version for two weeks before launch. End consumers could only view Threads on the web via a user’s personal page, like threads.net/@wexphone. You could browse posts and replies but not participate. That prevented desktop users from participating and certainly pushed Threads early adopters back to Twitter.
However, Threads’ app and website lack post search capabilities, making them insufficient to compete with Twitter (which has now rebranded itself X). Today, you can only search for persons, not posts or hashtags.
That makes Twitter less appealing for tracking news and trends, which made it a worldwide conversation engine. Twitter’s timeline is more than a feed of updates—it shows trending topics and breaking news. Threads is fun to peruse through without search and trends, especially with its gorgeous panoramic photographs, but it doesn’t feel like Twitter/X, a real-time news network.
Mosseri says Threads plans to add post search, so that could change. A large search option in Threads’ desktop experience is a promising indication, but during tests, it led us to a dead end—the page “isn’t available” an error message said. Threads is clearly in progress.
The Threads web app we tested before launch was not fully functional, thus we were unable to test search and feed browsing. However, replying to a user’s topic would open a box with merely the original post and a place to type your reply, which seemed weird. This diminished the sense of joining a bigger conversation.
However, we liked that the right menu let you swap between light and dark themes.
Threads broke records by being the fastest app to reach 100 million users in days by using Instagram’s social graph to enroll new users. Additionally, Market intelligence business Data.ai reports 200 million app installs yet.
App monitoring firm Sensor Tower reported that Threads’ daily active user count decreased 82% from launch to 8 million on July 31. The app’s daily users dropped significantly after its launch, peaking at 44 million.
Still, Threads’ demise is too pessimistic and soon. This web launch shows that significant features are still being constructed, making the app a beta. Threads’ typical joke is to ask if anyone is still here, which gets a lot of responses.
Threads also wants to join the fediverse of decentralised social media like Mastodon, which will redefine its interaction with the social web. Since Mastodon allows Threads profile verification, it has taken steps towards this commitment.
Threads’ users are mostly Twitter/X refugees, which is fascinating. Data.ai reported that 60% of Threads users utilise Twitter/X, whereas just 14% do. That means Threads’ growth depends on whether Twitter/X becomes too broken (or nasty) to keep users.
X owner Elon Musk has ended the app’s “block” option, so users may leave (an Xodus?) because they feel unsafe posting there. That might benefit Threads when it adds search, trends, lists, and anything else users desire.
The Threads web version will launch today for all users. The company expects the full rollout in a few days.