Starting today, Instagram Threads will begin rolling out one of their most requested features: the ability to use the service over the web while logged in. At launch, Threads users will be able to post, view their feed, and interact with posts from desktop, but the experience won’t be fully equivalent to the Threads mobile app yet, the company says.
For example, web users won’t be able to do certain things like edit their profile or send a thread to Instagram DMs (Direct Messages). The latter was another recently introduced feature meant to help get more Instagram users to try Threads as the app’s engagement has gone downhill after a buzzy launch.
We’re told the Threads team is working on adding more features to bring the web app on par with mobile over the coming weeks.
Despite its flaws, the ability to use threads from the web is a potential game-changer for those still trying to switch from Twitter/X. From day one, web support has been among the top user requests, outside of the reverse-chronological follow-up feed Threads delivered in July.
Like many Threads user requests, the company promised that web support was on the roadmap, but didn’t say when it was expected to arrive. However, there were hints that the web version was coming to an end, as happened last week with the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri teased We’re Close to the Web, in response to a user request for a way to post from the desktop. And then fanning the flames even further, The Wall Street Journal It leaked on Monday that web support will arrive this week.
Before the launch, Mosseri said, the Instagram Threads team had been testing an internal version of the web version for two weeks. But for end users, you can just browse topics on the web by going to an individual user’s profile page, eg threads.net/@techcrunch. While you could view posts and replies, you couldn’t join the conversation. This made it difficult for desktop users to participate – and likely drove a number of early Threads users to Twitter.
However, even the web version of Threads isn’t enough to make the product outright competitive with Twitter (which has since renamed itself X), because both the Threads app and website still lack post-public search capabilities. Today, you can only search for users, not the content of their posts or even hashtags.
This makes the product less compelling to track news and trends, which is what made Twitter a global hub for conversation in the first place. The Twitter timeline is not just a feed of updates, but a way to see what topics are popping up across the platform and breaking news. Without Search and Trends, Threads are fun enough to scroll through – especially with its beautiful panoramas – but it doesn’t quite have the feel of a real-time news network, as Twitter/X still does.
Mosseri said that could change over time, since searching for posts is also on Threads’ roadmap. The fact that the search button occupies such a prominent place in the desktop experience of Threads is a good sign – but unfortunately, during testing, this led us to a dead end – the page ‘unavailable’ error message is read. Obviously, the themes are still very much a work in progress.
Since the version of the Threads web app we had access to before launch was not a fully functional client, we were unable to test many of its features, including not only searching but also browsing our feeds. However, one thing that seemed odd was that posting a reply to a user’s thread would bring up a box showing only the original post and a place where you could type your reply. This took away from the feeling that you were participating in a larger conversation.
We wanted you to be able to switch between the light and dark theme from the menu on the right.
Threads came out of the gate strong, breaking records to become the fastest app to over 100 million users within days of its arrival, thanks to the clever way it took advantage of Instagram’s social graph to onboard new users. The app has now surpassed 200 million installs, according to market intelligence firm data.ai.
Since then, user engagement has declined rapidly after launch, according to the App Information Company Notice the sensor tower The number of daily active users for Threads has decreased by 82% since launch as of July 31, resulting in just 8 million daily active users. The app peaked at nearly 44 million daily users after its launch, which indicates a significant drop in the number of users.
However, the reports of Threads’ demise are very pessimistic and come very early. Today the app is actually in beta, with key features still being built as indicated by this web launch. In fact, it’s a standard joke on Threads to ask if anyone is still here, which regularly elicits an avalanche of responses.
Eventually, Threads also plans to connect to a decentralized social media network, such as Mastodon, which will change the nature of its relationship with the rest of the social network. It has already taken steps towards this commitment by allowing users to check out their Threads profile on Mastodon.
What’s interesting about Threads’ user base, though, is that it’s largely the ones that have either fled – or are trying to flee – Twitter/X. Data.ai found that around 60% of Threads users also use Twitter/X, but only 14% of Twitter/X users also use Threads. This means that Threads’ ability to gain traction is now accelerating on whether or not Twitter/X has become too broken (or too toxic) to retain its users.
Since X’s owner, Elon Musk, just announced the end of the “blocking” feature in the app, there will likely be another exodus from X (maybe Xodus?) as users no longer feel safe to post there. Themes can potentially benefit from this – well, at least when you add search, directions, lists, and everything else your users want.
The web version of the themes will start rolling out to all users today. The company says the full rollout should be completed within the next few days.