Instagram today rolled out v5.0 app update for iOS and Android platform, packed with some appealing new features. One of the most important enhancements in the new release is the option to share photos and videos with up to 15 people who follows you.

During an event in New York City, CEO Kevin Systrom made the formal announcement of this chat-like feature, called Instagram Direct and said, “Sometimes you want to be able to share, not with everyone but with a specific group – you can’t really do that with Instagram today.”

“Instagram Direct is a simple way to send pictures and videos to your friends,” he explains.

In the new app, users will see an icon on the upper-right corner of the home screen, and can open the inbox — a tap away — to see stored photos and videos received from other known people.

Continuing the traditional way of sharing photos from the phone’s media library or by clicking via Camera, the updated app brings two new tabs: Followers and Direct. If you tap the latter, you can specify the recipients (up to 15) and add a caption to the photo. The conversation always starts with a photo, so you can’t send simple messages, such as on Twitter.

If the recipients are online, their avatar will “light up” in real time inside the chat to indicate that one have seen the message. Photos and videos sent by mutual followers will appear immediately in your inbox while others have to approve the request.

The Instagram Direct feature is available for iOS and Android users only. As of now, we aren’t seeing any light for Windows Phone users because the app for Widows Phone is still beta and has a long way to chase the rivals.

Over the past few months, after the acquisition by Facebook, Instagram has updated their service slowly, adding the profile pages on the web, video recording and releasing the app for Windows Phone 8. With the arrival of Instagram Direct, now the popular photo-sharing service enters into direct competition with other messaging services.

Well, the new version has popped up on the devices just yet, and if you haven’t seen the update notification then stay tuned to respective stores to get your hands on the latest variant later today.

Instagram 5.0 for iOS | Android