Instagram seems to be prioritising web access during the coronavirus crisis. After last week rolling out direct messages on the web, Instagram Live Streams are now also viewable on the web …

As Engadget notes, both moves are likely due to fewer people using the app and more people surfing the web on tablets and laptops during coronavirus lockdowns.

Now that you’re likely staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you might not be as inclined to watch live Instagram feeds on your phone… and now, you don’t have to. Users (including Engadget) have noticed that Instagram Live streams recently became viewable on the web.

The experience is familiar and supports two-person streams, but takes advantage of the extra screen space to keep comments separate from the video — you won’t have to deal with half the feed being obscured by text.

You still need to broadcast from the iPhone or Android app, however.

You can’t start a broadcast from your desktop, so this isn’t a complete alternative to other web-friendly livestreaming services. It does fill a considerable gap in Instagram’s web version, mind you, and should come in handy for musicians, celebrities and others who want to reach out to fans while they’re stuck at home.

The DM feature added last week works in the same way as the app.

Instagram’s Direct Message UX on the web will be almost identical to iPhone and Android:

The direct messaging experience will be essentially the same through the browser as it is on mobile. You can create new groups or start a chat with someone either from the DM screen or a profile page; you can also double-tap to like a message, share photos from the desktop, and see the total number of unread messages you have. You’ll be able to receive desktop DM notifications if you enable notifications for the entire Instagram site in your browser. Instagram says it’ll “continue to iterate” on this during the test.

Despite the fact that people are increasingly switching from smartphones to tablet use while at home, there’s still no sign of an Instagram iPad app, however …

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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