Hands-on with Threads - Instagram's promising Twitter rival misses key features

Threads showing three accounts
(Image credit: iMore)

After much hype, Meta's Twitter killer app, Threads, launched earlier than planned today (July 6), and it's already making a huge impression.

At the time of writing, it's already gained 10 million followers in the 9 hours it's been available to users, and while it's still in its early days, users are clearly liking what's there so far.

You have to have an Instagram account in order to sign up for Threads, but it's this part that we suspect is why there are already so many users. It took us less than 5 minutes to go from downloading it from the App Store and Google Play Store, to posting a 'Thread' on iMore's own Thread profile.

But it's only when you start to scratch the surface that there are some obvious features missing that should be there, especially for a company like Meta.

First impressions are good so far

Threads on iOS

(Image credit: iMore)

The layout is a cross between Instagram's DM section and Twitter - you scroll as you normally would, and you can like, repost, and quote an existing post as usual. You can upload images and videos as well, but posting your favorite Simpsons GIF seems to be unavailable for now.

The feed seems to be based on the accounts you've followed on Instagram, alongside its Explore algorithm, and who you've followed on Threads so far. It's a good mix for now, and the fact that there are no ads, yet, makes it fun to scroll.

Already we've seen people and brands like Netflix who have joined Threads, and this does feel different to Mastodon, Bluesky, and, even Hive. It's not just filled with users who are jumping from platform to platform - it's those who don't use social platforms much anyway and others who check their smartphones a few times a day.

A few have already told us that they like how 'easy' it is and how it gives the impression that it's 'TikTok for text', which makes us wonder that this could finally be the social platform that could, not only replace Twitter, but others that have followed in its path.

It is easy to use, and seeing so many people join up already is an encouraging sign that Threads could be the one that topples Twitter.

Instagram's CEO Adam Mosseri has been posting some Instagram Stories since Thread's launch, and he's said that the ability to move your account to different platforms, such as Mastodon, will be available soon, which gives us hope that we won't be bound to Meta's universe.

But we think some other features need more of a priority for now.

Accessibility is an easy lose here, Meta


(Image credit: Future)

Its lack of accessibility features is simply baffling, especially for a huge company like Meta. It shows that Threads was rushed out to take advantage of Elon's latest misjudgment with Twitter last weekend, where users were limited to viewing a certain number of tweets.

There is no way currently to alt text, no inverted colors, no way of enlarging the text or images in any way - nothing.

But it doesn't stop there - there's no web app, so you can't check on your feed in Safari for example - it can only be on an iPhone or Android device. There's also no way of showing a feed of just your followers, and if you want to delete your Thread account, you also have to delete Instagram.

These are basic features, and before Mosseri and his team give themselves a pat on the back for the millions of signups, they risk forgetting why these platforms are made in the first place.

To communicate with everyone on a level playing field, to showcase your passions in the best way. And to cut those with hearing and visual impairments out from the first release feels backwards, and wrong.

Focus on that first, and that's when Threads can truly measure up to being a Twitter replacement for everyone, not just the few.

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.