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Threads launches its anticipated web app

Instagram Threads will launch one of its most requested features today: web access while logged in. The company says Threads users can post, view 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 edit their profile or send threads to Instagram DMs. Another recent feature was meant to entice more Instagram users to try Threads as engagement dropped after a buzzy launch.

We hear the Threads team is adding features 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 have requested web support since the beginning, except for a reverse chronological Following feed, which Threads delivered in July.

The company promised web 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 leak that web support was coming this week fueled the fire.

Mosseri said Instagram Threads had been testing an internal web version for two weeks before launch. End users could only browse Threads on the web via a user’s profile page, like threads.net/@exemple. You could view posts and replies but not participate. That prevented desktop users from participating and likely drove Threads early adopters back to Twitter.

However, Threads’ app and website lack post search capabilities, making them insufficient to compete with Twitter (which has since renamed itself X). Today, you can only search for users, not posts or hashtags.

That makes Twitter less appealing for tracking news and trends, which made it a global conversation hub. Twitter’s timeline is more than a feed of updates—it shows trending topics and breaking news. Threads is pleasant to scroll through without search and trends, especially with its lovely panoramic photos, 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 prominent search button in Threads’ desktop experience is a good sign, but during tests, it led us to a dead end—the page “isn’t available” an error message read. Threads is clearly in progress.

The Threads web app we tested before launch was not fully functional, so we were unable to test search and feed browsing. However, replying to a user’s thread would open a box with only the original post and a place to type your reply, which seemed odd. This diminished the sense of joining a larger conversation.

However, we liked that the right menu let you switch between light and dark themes.

Threads broke records by becoming the fastest app to reach 100 million users in days by using Instagram’s social graph to onboard new users. Market intelligence firm data.ai reports 200 million app installs.

App intelligence firm Sensor Tower reported that Threads’ daily active user count fell 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 indicates that key features are still being built, making the app a beta. Threads’ regular joke is to ask if anyone is still here, which gets a lot of responses.

Threads also plans to join the fediverse of decentralized social media like Mastodon, which will change its relationship with the social web. Since Mastodon allows Threads profile verification, it has taken steps toward this commitment.

Threads’ users are mostly Twitter/X refugees, which is interesting. Data.ai found that 60% of Threads users use Twitter/X, but only 14% do. That means Threads’ growth depends on whether Twitter/X becomes too broken (or toxic) to retain users.

X owner Elon Musk just ended the app’s “block” feature, so users may leave (an Xodus?) because they feel unsafe posting there. That could benefit Threads when it adds search, trends, lists, and everything else users want.

The Threads web version will roll out today to all users. The company expects the full rollout in a few days.

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