Category Archives: Mobile

Index and Atomico back Teatime Games, a stealthy new startup from QuizUp founders

Teatime Games, a new Icelandic “social games” startup from the same team behind the hugely popular QuizUp (acquired in by Glu Mobile), is disclosing $9 million in funding, made up of seed and Series A rounds.

Index Ventures led both, but have been joined by Atomico, the European VC fund founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström, for the $7.5 million Series A round. I understand this is the first time the two VC firms have done a Series A deal together in over a decade.

Both VCs have a decent track record in gaming. Index counts King, Roblox and Supercell as previous gaming investments, whilst Atomico also backed Supercell, along with Rovio, and most recently Bossa Studios.

As part of the round, Guzman Diaz of Index Ventures, Mattias Ljungman of Atomico, and David Helgason, founder of Unity, have joined the Teatime Games board of directors.

Meanwhile, Teatime Games is keeping shtum publicly on exactly what the stealthy startup is working on, except that it plays broadly in the social and mobile gaming space. In a call with co-founder and CEO Thor Fridriksson yesterday, he said a little more off the record and on condition that I don’t write about it yet.

What he was willing to describe publicly, however, is the general problem the company has set out to solve, which is how to make mobile games more social and personalised. Specifically, in a way that any social features — including communicating with friends and other players in real-time — enhances the gameplay rather than gets in its way or is simply bolted on as an adjunct to the game itself.

The company’s macro thesis is that games have always been inherently social throughout different eras (e.g. card games, board games, arcades, and consoles), and that most games truly come to life “through the interaction between people, opponents, and the audience”. However, in many respects this has been lost in the age of mobile gaming, which can feel like quite a solitary experience. That’s either because they are single player games or turn-based and played against invisible opponents.

Teatime plans to use the newly-disclosed investment to double the size of its team in Iceland, with a particular focus on software engineers, and to further develop its social gaming offering for third party developers. Yes, that’s right, this is clearly a developer platform play, as much as anything else.

On that note, Atomico Partner Mattias Ljungman says the next “breakout opportunity” in games will see a move beyond individual studios and titles to what he describes as fundamental enabling technologies. Linked to this he argues that the next generation of games companies being developed will “become ever more mass market and socially connected”. You can read much more on Ljungman and Atomico’s gaming thesis in a blog post recently published by the VC firm.

WhatsApp revamps Groups to fight Telegram

Facebook just installed its VP of Internet.org as the new head of WhatsApp after its CEO Jan Koum left the company. And now Facebook is expanding its mission to get people into “meaningful” groups to WhatsApp. Today, WhatsApp launched a slew of new features for Groups on iOS and Android that let admins set a description for their community and decide who can change the Groups settings. Meanwhile, users will be able to get a Group catch up that shows messages they were mentioned in, and search for people in the group.

WhatsApp’s new Group descriptions

WhatsApp Group participant search

Group improvements will help WhatsApp better compete with Telegram, which has recently emerged as an insanely popular platform for chat groups, especially around cryptocurrency. Telegram has plenty of admin controls of its own, but the two apps will be competing over who can make it easiest to digest these fast-moving chat forums.

“These are features are based on user requests. We develop the product based on what our users want and need” a WhatsApp spokesperson told me when asked why it’s making this update. “There are also people coming together in groups onWhatsApp like new parents looking for support, students organizing study sessions, and even city leaders coordinating relief efforts after natural disasters.”

Facebook is on a quest to get 1 billion users into “meaningful” Groups and recently said it now has hit the 200 million user milestone. Groups could help people strengthen their ties with their city or niche interests, which can make them feel less alone.

With Group descriptions, admins can explain the purpose and rules of a group. They show up when people check out the group and appear atop the chat window when they join. New admin controls let them restrict who is allowed to alter a group’s subject, icon, and description. WhatsApp is also making it tougher to re-add someone to a group they left so you can’t “Group-add-spam people”. Together, these could make sure people find relevant groups, naturally acclimate to their culture, and don’t troll everyone.

As for users, the new Group catch up feature offers a new @ button in the bottom right of the chat window that when tapped, surfaces all your replies and mentions since you last checked. And if you want to find someone specific in the Group, the new participant search on the Info page could let you turn a group chat into a private convo with someone you meet.

WhatsApp Group catch up

Now that WhatsApp has a stunning 1.5 billion users compared to 200 million on Telegram, its next phase of growth may come from deepening engagement instead of just adding more accounts. Many people already do most of their one-on-one chatting with friends on WhatsApp, but Groups could invite tons of time spent as users participate in communities of strangers around their interests.

Tinder’s upcoming location-based feature seems a bit creepy

Do you want random Tinder users to see where you’ve been? Uh, no? Well, great news: an upcoming Tinder feature called Places will allow for just that. According to screenshots detailing Tinder Places uncovered by The Verge, the dating app is developing a feature that tracks your location via its app, then shows potential matches where you’ve been. The idea is to allow people to come across their real-life missed connections, similar to how the dating app Happn works today.

There are some caveats about the new feature. For starters, this is something Tinder has in testing – the way it works at launch could be different. Also, the feature can be shut off, the documentation says – a toggle in the app’s settings let you turn it on or off at any time. And we’ve learned that, thankfully, this feature will be opt-in.

However, that’s a decision you should approach with caution.

Above: Places documentation, image credit: The Verge

The way Tinder has implemented the location feature is concerning. Instead of allowing users to explicitly “check in” to a given place – like their favorite coffee shop or a cool restaurant or bar – Tinder continuously tracks users’ location with its app, then makes a determination about which of your “places” it will show to your potential matches.

The company, at least, thought to remove things like doctors, dentists, banks, and the place where you live or work from this automated location-sharing option. It also won’t add a place to your list until after you’ve left – though it doesn’t say how long it waits to do so. (The documentation hedges on the timeframe by saying things like “we’ll wait a while” or “it’ll take some time.”)

While Tinder says your recent places will expire after 28 days – meaning, other Tinder users won’t be able to see where you’ve been past that point – the company does appear to be keeping a wider history of users’ location and travels for itself. The documentation explains that Tinder will use this Places information in order to improve the product – by learning which places lead to matches, which users are always deleting, and it will use the data to improve its ability to show users better matches.

Above: Tinder Places, image credit: The Verge

In other words, Tinder will be tracking you, as well as giving potential matches the ability to narrow down the parts of the city you frequent – right down to your daily habits. That means potential matches could figure our things like which bar you regularly hit up for after-work drinks, where you work out, what your favorite breakfast spot is, and so on.

The advantage to daters gaining access to this information about other Tinder users is fairly limited. After all, simply hitting up the same Starbucks in the morning isn’t any sort of signal about someone’s potential as a love match.

But it does put a lot more data into the hands of potential stalkers, while offering Tinder access to a massive treasure trove of location data – the selling of which, even anonymized and in aggregate, could be a big business. Even if Tinder doesn’t aim to sell the data directly, it clearly paves the way for the company to show more specific location-based ads in its product.

It also lets Tinder group users into cohorts regarding their interests – without explicitly asking for that data, like Facebook does. For example, Tinder would know if someone shows up at church every week, or regularly takes their dog to a dog park – things it could use to classify users and match them accordingly.

That’s useful to some extent, in a handful of cases – but just because you have a dog, doesn’t mean you need to date someone with a dog, too. In the end, it’s less useful to have “things” in common with people – it’s more useful to share the same values, experts say. And those values are more important than the initial attraction (which fades as the hormones wear off), and more important than a set of common interests – those can be negotiated in a relationship.

In the end, there’s far more for Tinder to gain here, than users to gain from the Places feature – especially with the downside regarding its potential for harassment or stalking.

One serious concern was whether Places would be opt out or opt in – the documentation The Verge found didn’t make this clear. However, we’re relieved to hear (from people familiar with product) that Places is an opt-in experience.

That this feature’s launch is nearly is not a surprise. Tinder already said it was working on rolling out a new location feature this year during its earnings calls, something it described as having the potential to bring in a new audience and “expand the definition of dating.” That could imply the company wants to make Places more of a social networking, or friend-finding feature, rather than just an option for finding dates.

Why Snapchat’s re-redesign will fail and how to fix it

Snap screwed it all up jumbling messages and Stories, banishing creators to Discover, and wrecking auto-advance. Prideful of his gut instincts, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel refused to listen to the awful user reviews and declining usage. Now a YouGov  study shows a 73% drop in user sentiment towards Snapchat, the app’s user count shrank in March, and its share price is way down.

Yet the re-redesign Snapchat is finally rolling out today in response won’t fix the problems. The company still fails to understand that people want a predictable app that’s convenient to lay back and watch, and social media stars are more similar to you and me than they are to news outlets producing mobile magazine-style Discover content.

There’s a much better path for Snapchat, but it will require an ego adjustment and a bigger reversal of the changes — philosophy be damned.

Snapchat’s impression amongst US users fell off a cliff when the redesign was rolled out early this year

Here’s what Snapchat was, is becoming, and should be.

The Old Snapchat

Snapchat’s best design was in September 2016. It lacked sensible Stories sorting, and got some questionable changes before the big January 2018 redesign, but the fundamentals were there:

  • Left: Messages in reverse chronological order
  • Right: Stories from everyone in reverse chronological order with a carousel of ranked preview tiles in a carousel above or below Stories
  • Auto-Advance: Automatic and instant

 

The Broken Snapchat

Snapchat’s big January 2018 redesign did two smart things. It added more obvious navigation buttons to ease in new and adult users. And it made the Stories list algorithmically sorted so you’d see your best friends first rather than just who posts most often, as TechCrunch recommended last April.

But it introduced a bunch of other problems like pulling creators out of the Stories list, turning the inbox into chaos with ad-laden Stories, and breaking auto-advance so you have to watch an annoying interstitial between each friend. Spiegel stubbornly refused to listen to the poor feedback, saying in February “Even the complaints we’re seeing reinforce the philosophy. Even the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes. It’ll take time for people to adjust”. That quickly proved short-sighted.

  • Left: Messages and Stories from friends mixed together, sorted algorithmically
  • Right: Discover, sorted algorithmically, with influencers and people who don’t follow you back mixed in
  • Auto-Advance: Interstitial preview screens

The Re-Redesigned Snapchat

Users hated the redesign, initial reviews were mostly negative, and Snapchat’s growth fell to its lowest rate ever. After some tests, Today Snapchat tells us it’s rolling out the re-redesign to the majority of iOS users that’s a little less confusing. Yet it doesn’t address the core problems, plus makes the Discover screen more overwhelming and ditches the smart sorting of friends’ Stories:

  • Left: Messages sorted reverse chronologically
  • Right: Friends’ Stories at the top sorted reverse chronologically, then subscriptions to creators sorted algorithmically, then Discover channels sorted algorithmically
  • Auto-Advance: Interstitial preview screens

The Right Snapchat

While the re-redesign makes Snapchat’s messaging inbox work like it used to, it reintroduces the problem of an unsorted Story list that’s dominated by whoever posts most often. It also leaves auto-advance broken out of a misguided hope of ensuring you never watch a frenemy or ex’s Story by accident and show up in their view counts. But that’s not worth ruining the laid-back viewing experience we’ve grown to love on Instagram Stories, and could be better solved with a mute button or just getting people to unfriend those they can’t be seen watching.

That’s why I recommend Snapchat move to a hybrid of all its designs:

  • Left: Messages sorted reverse chronologically
  • Right: Stories from all friends and creators, displayed as preview tiles, sorted algorithmically to preference close friends
  • Further Right: Discover, with preview tile sections for subscriptions, publishers, and Our Stories/Maps/Events [This whole screen could be crammed into the Stories page if Snap insisted on just one screen on the right]
  • Auto-Advance: Traditional instant auto-advance without interstitials, plus a mute button to hide people

This design would make the inbox natural and uncluttered, ensure you see all your closest friends’ Stories, keep influencers from being buried in Discover, give publishers and Snapchat’s own content recommendations including new creators room to breathe, and let you easily relax and watch a ton of Stories in a row.

Snapchat could have slowly iterated its way to this conclusion. It could have done extensive beta testing of each change to ensure it didn’t misstep. And perhaps facing an existential crisis from the exceedingly viable alternatives Instagram and WhatsApp, it should never have attempted a sweeping overhaul of its app’s identity. Twitter’s conservative approach to product updates looks wiser in retrospect. Instead, Snap is in decline.

Facebook’s family of apps have survived over the years by changing so gradually that they never shocked users into rebellion, or executing major redesigns when users had no comparable app to switch to. Snapchat calls itself a camera company, but it’s really a “cool” company — powered by the perception of its trendiness with American kids. But as ephemeral content proliferates and Stories become a ubiquitous standard soon to surpass feeds as the preferred way to share, they’ve gone from hip to utility. So if its features aren’t cool any more and are offered in a slicker way to a larger audience elsewhere, what is Snapchat anymore?

Snapchat hosts first Creators Summit after years of neglect

Social media stars have always been treated like nobodies instead of VIPs on Snapchat. Despite pioneering the Stories and creative tools they love, the lack of support saw many drift to YouTube’s ad dollars and Instagram’s bigger audience. Now Snap CEO Evan Spiegel is finally stepping up to win back their favor and their content.

Last night, Spiegel joined 13 top Snapchat stars, ranging from the U.S. to as far as Lebanon, for dinner at the company’s first Creators Summit in LA. Flanked by a dozen Snap execs and product managers, Spiegel tried to impress upon the assembled artists, comedians and storytellers that the company is turning over a new leaf in how it will treat them. Today the creators sat with Snap VP of Content Nick Bell to give the company an unfiltered understanding of the tools they need and give input on Snapchat’s product roadmap.

“The goal of our first creator summit was to listen and learn from them about how we can continue to strengthen opportunities for them on Snapchat — and continue to empower our community to express themselves and have fun together,” Bell told TechCrunch. “We are grateful to each of them for coming to the table with candid feedback and are excited about the possibilities ahead.” Snapchat confirms to TechCrunch it plans to hold more of these Creator Summits.

Mike Metzler, one of the popular Snappers in attendance, told us, “It’s been refreshing. Snap seems very genuinely interested in listening to what we have to say, and committed to making this an important initiative.” But another questioned whether Snapchat was actually going to make changes or was just playing nice.

Creators cast aside

A week after Snapchat launched Stories in 2013, I asked “Who will be the first Snapchat Stories celebrity?” Apparently the young company hadn’t thought that through. It had concentrated entirely on the average American teen, to the detriment of power users and the international market.

Snapchat’s jankily engineered app crashed constantly for stars with too many followers. There were no advanced analytics about who was watching them or easy ways to prove their audience to brand sponsors. There was no support from Snapchat if they got hacked or locked out of their account. There was no ad revenue share. There was no promotion to help people discover their accounts.

Without a direct alternative, creators gritted their teeth and dealt with it. But when Instagram Stories came along, with its massive audience, Explore page and experienced outreach team for dealing with high-profile accounts, some jumped ship. Others focused their attention on Instagram, or YouTube, where they could at least get a cut of the ad money they generated. Users drifted too, leading many stars to see their view counts drop.

The situation came to a head on Snap’s November 2017 Q3 earnings call. With user growth slumping to a new low, Spiegel announced a change of course. “We have historically neglected the creator community on Snapchat that creates and distributes public Stories for the broader Snapchat audience. In 2018, we are going to build more distribution and monetization opportunities for these creators,” Spiegel admitted.

Snap began rolling out its verification badge, an emoji next to the user name, to social media stars instead of just traditional celebrities. With its recent redesign, it began promoting creators for the first time if they made something engaging enough to become a”Popular Story.” And in February it finally launched analytics for creators, which would help them secure sponsorship deals.

Still, Snap hadn’t done much soft diplomacy. While top creators frequent the offices of YouTube and Instagram, few had been to Snapchat HQ. They needed a face to connect the efforts to.

Spiegel and the stars

“[Spiegel] stopped by last night and was so happy to meet us, get to know us, take a selfie,” says CyreneQ, a prolific Snapper and master of its illustration tools. While he didn’t make any grand remarks, apologies, or proclamations, his presence signaled that the push to help creators was more than just talk. When asked how the Summit went, musician/comedian Shonduras told me, “we collaborated on a lot of ideas and it feels solid.”

Snapchat’s redesign moved creators into the Discover section

The biggest concern amongst the creators was growing their view counts. The recent redesign moved stars, brands and other popular people who don’t follow you back out of the friends Stories list and into the Discover section alongside professionally produced editorial content. One creator said that helped them find more fans, but another who asked not to be named said “It hasn’t been kind to my views.”

Bell and Snapchat listened, and informed the group that it’s going to develop a range of “tools and programs to help the creator community,” CyreneQ told me. Pressed for more details, she demurred, “I wish I could tell you but they’ll send ninjas after me.”

Monetization options should be high on Snapchat’s list. As long as creators are essentially producing content for free, they’ll be susceptible to the pull of other products. And if Snap can’t speed up its total user growth, it must find ways to get teens addicted to stars that boost the time they spend in its app.

Snap can’t afford to screw this up. With its user count actually shrinking in March, it needs their dynamic, personal, niche content to keep teens loyal to Snapchat. The whole point of Snapchat was to create a more personal form of social media. It’s tough for movie actors and rock stars to come off feeling vulnerable and approachable. But creators, who were just normal people a few years ago, could help Snapchat bridge the divide between raw intimacy and polished entertainment.

Facebook United

Facebook was a mess. The independence it dangled to close acquisition deals with Instagram and WhatsApp turned the company into a tangle of overlapping products. Every app had its own messaging and Stories options. Economies of scale were squandered. Top innovators led mature products already bursting at the seams with features while new opportunities went unseized.

Facebook was effectively drowning in its own success because the different arms couldn’t coordinate to paddle in the same direction.

But today Facebook announced its biggest reorganization ever that could cut the redundancy, apply talent to fresh problems, and unite the company under a common banner.

Putting The Family First

Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, will fly that flag. He now oversees the “Facebook Family Of Apps” including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp. Messenger’s VP of product Stan Chudnovsky will take over as head of Messenger, replacing David Marcus who’s moving to lead a new blockchain group at Facebook (more on that later).

Facebook’s head of News Feed Adam Mosseri is taking the Instagram VP of product role, taking over for Kevin Weil who’s going to Marcus’ project. Mosseri is replaced by Facebook VP of Product Management John Hegeman. Meanwhile, Facebook’s head of Internet.org Chris Daniels will take the lead role at WhatsApp, recently vacated by Jan Koum as he departed the corporation all together.

Image via Recode

These changes could reduce the autonomy of Instagram and WhatsApp, at least in philosophy if not if formal hierarchy. That might make them less appealing places to work, after WhatsApp veterans like Nikesh Arora were passed over in favor of an installed Facebook exec. It could spook future acquisition candidates, who might see the reorganization as Facebook reneging on its promise of independence. And it could hinder the apps’ role as hedges against harm to Facebook’s core brand. Many users don’t realize they’re owned by Facebook, and therefore didn’t extend the backlash about recent privacy scandals to them.

But Facebook will gain the ability to execute a more coherent strategy. Mosseri, a long-time member of Mark Zuckerberg’s inner circle, will bring his experience turning News Feed into one of the world’s most popular inventions to Instagram, which is hoping to ramp up monetization now that it’s achieved utter dominance over Snapchat in photo sharing. Few know the Facebook playbook better than Mosseri, who could help Instagram get out ahead of problems he’d been in the thick of like fake news and declines in original sharing.

Daniels’ days connecting the developing world fits well at WhatsApp, whose users across the globe often deal with slow mobile networks. This also leaves room for new blood at Internet.org. It’s now connected 200 million people to some form of the Internet, but its Free Basics app has been banned in several countries over net neutrality concerns and partners have pulled out over sustainability concerns. WhatsApp too is ready to monetize, having recently launched its WhatsApp For Business product, and Daniels’ background in biz dev and partnerships at Facebook around the IPO could serve him well.

Mark Zuckerberg discusses the Facebook family of apps at F8 2015

But more important than their siloed efforts is what a more unified family under Cox could accomplish. Over 2016 and 2017, all four apps launched isolated Stories products. While Instagram’s and WhatsApp’s took off, Facebook’s and Messenger’s felt absurdly redundant and underpopulated. It took until late 2017 for Facebook to realize it should synchronize Stories across Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger so users could post once to their audiences everywhere.

The reorg could prevent Facebook from haphazardly tripping over itself in attempt to seize on emerging trends. As visual communication becomes the new Facebook mandate, the company could similarly align its efforts in augmented reality, ephemeral and encrypted messaging, and ecommence tools. Mosseri and Daniels can implement the Facebook strategy and shield their apps from the same old pitfalls. Instagram and WhatsApp have instituted themselves in their respective markets, and now have the leaders to make them well-oiled cogs in the Facebook machine.

Move Fast And Shake Things Up

Few hires have had the impact at Facebook of Marcus and Weil. The former president of PayPal, Marcus has brought Messenger from 200 million monthly users in 2014 to over 1.3 billion now. He successfully managed the forced migration of users off Facebook’s chat feature to Messenger, laid the foundation for advertising and business tools, and turned the app into a platform for games and useful utilities (beyond the initially half-baked bots).

Weil, formerly SVP of product at Twitter where changes came at molasses pace, turned Instagram into a rapid-fire launcher of new features. Most significantly, he implemented Zuckerberg and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom’s plan to copy Snapchat’s Stories. Instagram was growing stale, showing just the occasional highlights of users’ lives. Instagram Stories solved that, and Weil grew it to over 300 million daily users — much bigger than Snapchat’s whole 191 million user audience. Meanwhile, using Stories to spark conversation, Instagram Direct grew into one the most popular messaging apps.

But today, Messenger and Instagram have begun to feel bloated. Marcus had to announce a plan to simplify the chat app at the start of 2018 after its version of Stories called Messenger Day steamrolled the rest of the product’s design. The camera, games, and bots got as much space in the navigation bar as the core chat product. Last week Messenger revealed a redesign that refocuses on…messaging, giving the app a sensible roadmap. Instagram, now having effectively won the Stories war with Snapchat and having acclimated users to an algorithmic feed, left Weil without as many urgent changes to make.

If Facebook wasn’t careful, it could have lost these leaders to the CEO or COO role of a growing startup, or seen them leave to launch something of their own. Marcus had already taken a board seat at crypto giant Coinbase, while Weil took one at exercise community Strava.

Kevin Weil (Instagram) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

That’s why it was so wise to give Marcus the latitude to build a new team of under a dozen including Weil focused on finding how Facebook could take advantage of the blockchain. It’s a massive, open new problem space in which to operate. One that needs visionaries in both product and business.

It’s unclear what they’ll build together but there are plenty of opportunities.

They could explore payments facilitated by the blockchain’s lack of transaction fees. Messenger and Instagram both added native payment systems recently. Cutting out the credit card companies could be a lucrative shot for Facebook. And micropayments could open new ways to tip creators or compensate news outlets. Cloud storage based on blockchains could help Facebook cut its massive server bills. And the decentralized nature of the blockchain might unlock new paradigms for social networking with increased autonomy that might threaten Facebook if invented elsewhere.

Perhaps they’ll conclude Facebook doesn’t need the blockchain. That’s fine. The risk would be leaving the space unmined and ripe for someone else’s taking.

Facebook has lasted this long by identifying new threats of disruption, and thwarting with them with its build, buy, or copy strategy. Streams like FriendFeed and Twitter? Facebook built News Feed. Photos and chat? Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp. Ephemeral content? Facebook copied Snapchat.

The reorganization recognizes how Facebook had become a danger to itself — disruption through internal redundancy and wasted chances. It saw the discombobulated wings of Google lead it to massive failure in messaging, with a half-dozen chat apps all competing while confusing users. And it saw how Internet giants like Microsoft and Apple ignored social because it was outside their wheelhouse, only to end up sharing the titan’s table with Facebook.

Zuckerberg loves to say the journey is 1 percent finished. Today Facebook proved it’s always looking for a new finish line.

Now you can make reservations and buy movie tickets on Instagram

Instagram is unveiling new features for businesses that want to use their profiles to message with customers and even facilitate transactions.

Even if you’re not a business on Instagram, you might still notice the addition of action buttons, which will allow you to make a reservation, buy a ticket, start an order or make a booking using third party services, all from an Instagram business profile.

The initial integrations include (deep breath) Acuity, Atom Tickets, Booksy, ChowNow, Eatstreet, Eventbrite, Fandango, GrubHub, MyTime, OpenTable, Reserve, Restorando, Resy, SevenRooms, StyleSeat, Tock and Yelp Reservations, with plans to add Appointy, Genbook, LaFourchette, Mindbody, Schedulicity, SetMore, Shedul and Vagaro soon.

It looks like the buttons essentially open up a browser window or widget for users to perform their chosen actions, so it’s not quite native functionality in the Instagram app. Still, it means that these interactions are now just a tap away. And an Instagram spokesperson told us that in the case of Atom Tickets, the actions do take advantage of Instagram’s native payments.

The company says that more than 200 million daily users visit an Instagram business profile every day, while more than 150 million have an Instagram Direct conversation with a business in a month.

“As more people continue to interact with businesses on Instagram and take action when inspiration strikes, we’re making it easier to turn that discovery into action,” Instagram said in a blog post announcing the new feature.

In addition, the company is rethinking how businesses handle their Instagram Direct messages. Customer messages now show up in the main inbox, rather the pending folder, with the ability to star conversations that the business wants to come back to. Instagram also says it will start testing quick replies, so that a business can just select prewritten responses to standard questions, rather than typing the same answer over and over again.