Thursday morning, Instagram announced a big new feature.

In just a few years, Instagram has established itself as one of the most vibrant and engaging social media networks, and today the folks behind it took to Twitter to make an announcement:

What was the big announcement? Something called Instagram Direct. They're taking on Snapchat, and letting Instagram users send their photos directly to people they select, instead of just putting them in a feed.

The new feature shares some details with Snapchat. It'll tell you when your friend has looked at your photo, for example, or if someone "likes" it or saves it. The difference is that the photos stick around (as opposed to the disappearing pics on Snapchat), and comments can be posted on them. Only people you follow can send you photos directly. Photos from other folks go in a "pending requests" area in the app.

The standard Instagram app itself has also been redesigned for iOS 7 devices. It looks all nice and shiny.

Do you think this means the end of Snapchat? Will people still use it to send racy pictures, or information that they want to disappear? Or will we all switch over to Instagram's nice filters and added features?

The app will be available in the Apple App Store this afternoon.