Last month, Tumblr rolled out instant messaging on the web, iOS and Android to a subset of Tumblr users ahead of a broader launch. Today, the company says that all users will now have access to this feature, which introduces a way to communicate directly with others on the service, in a private, chat-like interface.
Originally, the product itself was fairly bare-bones – you could text messages to others, and not much more. But now users are also able to share posts via the service, as part of this most recent update.
The addition makes sense as Tumblr users are generally connecting with each other to talk about their shared interests or content on the site, as opposed to other social networks where you’re generally chatting and networking with friends. In fact, Tumblr users may only know each other by their screen names, not their real identities. Being able to share a post privately with another Tumblr user and optionally comment on what you think, then, is something that many messaging users will likely want to do.
To take advantage of this post-sharing feature, you’ll click on a new “paper airplane” button that now accompanies every post on Tumblr. This is the first new action button Tumblr has introduced since the reblog, which demonstrates the importance of this new feature to the company. The button, which is available both on your Dashboard and on Tumblr blogs, lets you send any post as a message. When clicked, you’ll see Tumblr users you’ve most recently had a conversation with and can also search for others.
This button is currently available on iOS and the web, and will arrive on Android over the next 24 hours, Tumblr also notes.
At the time of its November launch, Tumblr said that the larger messaging rollout would take several weeks to complete and it seems the company was right on schedule.
Before today, the only way you could use the messaging service (if you weren’t already invited to try it) was to receive a message from someone who had chat enabled.
Though messaging seems like a small feature release for the blogging site, it’s actually a notable development that could transform how people use Tumblr. The addition gives the site a real-time component that could help it better engage users as they shift more of their activity to mobile, where messaging apps dominate.
On mobile devices, push notifications about new chats could help to bring about increased interactions with Tumblr’s product, as well as longer session times. And the feature itself could be improved over time to offer a feature set that’s more competitive with other chat platforms – like Messenger, for example – by introducing rich media sharing, and other activities.
Those things are in the works, we understand. Tumblr said earlier that it would add support for GIF-sharing and video-sharing in the future. Unfortunately, those features haven’t yet arrived, but now that Tumblr messaging is publicly available, their arrival is at least getting closer.