Instagram has exploded in popularity since its debut in 2010, and since it has been bought by social media mammoth Facebook for $1 billion in 2010. Now, Instagram unveils its biggest change since adding video uploads to the service, which could be considered Instagram’s answer to Snapchat. The new messaging app, Bolt, will allow users to send self-deletable photos and video messages from their mobile device.
Instagram’s newest update needs just one click to both select recipients to send photos to and take a photo, all at once. A longer, prolonged press of a button will take and send a video. The handy tool bar along the bottom of the screen holds a favorites list of up to four friends, not unlike direct messaging on Pinterest. Up to 20 people can be messaged with a single swipe of the finger. Shaking the app will undo a photo that users may have sent accidentally. Instead of a camera shutter button, Bolt shows photos of a user’s contacts; clicking on the avatar of a contact will snap a photo meant for that person. Bolt messages then disappear once tapped upon.
Users will not need email to sign up for Bolt; a phone number is all the app requires to get snapping. Users will only be able to invite friends to use Bolt via SMS. This has the potential to make Bolt a little more intimate, being as how some friends on social networking are only connected via email, not via telephone number. Photos will be editable with text and captions, although drawing has not been reported as a function for new app. Another interesting feature to Bolt is the option to reply to friends using text over the top of a previously sent photo.
Users anxious to try out this new app any time soon are out of luck. This is because Bolt, Instagram’s answer to Snapchat, is only available at present as a soft launch. Only three countries–New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa–can send messages that will delete themselves automatically as of now. Instagram told the Verge that they were looking to “scale the experience” and maintain quality control for the new messaging app and that more countries will see the availability of the app for iOS and Android in the coming months.
Another app, also called Bolt, is not as excited about Instagram’s soft launch. Developers of this foremost Bolt app, which has been around for roughly a year’s time, have reached out to Instagram execs to request that the name Bolt be changed. This startup company is dedicated to building technology that will replace voice calling and text messaging through traditional cell phone plans. In an open letter, the first Bolt joked that while the company knows what a great name Bolt is, developers have worked hard to develop a brand around the name; developers also implore Instagram not to destroy the effort by refusing to change the name of the app. Rumors have also circulated that the company will pursue legal action if need be to secure the rights to the name.
Recently, Facebook released another app that piggy-backed on the name of another popular app. Paper, a link-sharing app meant to organize content discovered while browsing online, shared a name with a popular drawing app with the same name. While Paper, by FiftyThree, disputed Facebook’s use of the name, the name of Facebook’s Paper app remains as of yet unchanged.
Bolt’s muted debut follows Facebook’s release of an app that has been compared directly to Snapchat, Slingshot. With Slingshot, users have more obstructions to their covert photo viewing. For one, users must send a photo BACK to the sender before he or she can view the original picture posting, encouraging a real give and take between users. Unlike Snapchat, Slingshot offers users a “select all” function for contacts and followers, which has been coveted by Snapchat’s 500-million-snaps-a-day audience. Slingshot is being touted more as a pictogram news feed rather than a messaging service, and developers claim that their goal with this new release is to flip the modus operandi of social sharing on its head.
By Mariah Beckman