Messaging apps have been having a moment recently. From picture messaging to unusual messaging you never thought you needed, such as Yo and Meow Chat, there seems to be an endless supply of message apps with new ways to chat and connect with your friends. So, it’s not surprising to be introduced to a new image based messaging app, to rival Snapchat, Mirage, Slingshot and more, created by Instagram.
About Facebook-Owned Instagram
Instagram is currently a highly popular phone app and social media service, which allows users to upload and edit their own photos or videos to share with their followers. It creates a unique profile for each user, consisting of their photos, and allows users to easily follow other users to gain their image updates in their Instagram feed. The app debuted in 2010, and amassed such a following that Facebook instantly purchased the app for $1billion in the same year. (See our Instagram social media services for what we could offer your business here.)
The main feature of the social media channel is that it allows you to filter your photos and videos, and create interesting edits. However, up till now, the channel has been rather unsocial for communicating with other users and your followers, as you are currently only able to comment on or like other peoples’ images, and respond on your own images. This seems to be all about to change with Instagram’s new app, which is designed for direct messaging with other users.
Instagram’s new messaging app is called Bolt.
Bolt basically allows users to send self-deletable photos and videos from their mobile phones, through this messaging service. The unique selling point relies on needing just one click to select the user to send your image, and to take your photo and send it, all in one. Similarly, for videos, you just click and hold down for longer. Bolt basically shows photos of your contacts as round avatars at the bottom of the app screen, and clicking on one contact will automatically take a snapshot and send it, requiring you to hold down longer on the contact for a video. If you are worried about accidental sends through this process, then don’t worry as an extra feature includes being able to shake your phone in order to delete a photo or video that has been sent straight away.
Bolt is Efficient
Instagram states that the speed of Bolt makes all the difference, and provides a much quicker and more efficient way to send images and videos. Another effective feature, they claim, is that Bolt only requires a quick registration of entering your mobile number, and you can get started. With Bolt, you are able to sync your contacts through the phone numbers you have saved in your phone, although you are strangely unable to sync contacts through either your Instagram or Facebook contacts.
However, at the moment, users are only able to access a maximum of 20 contacts through this app, with 4 favourites on the main screen, and an easy swipe through function to access the other 16. Also, the focus is very much on one-to-one communication, as users are currently restricted to sending their image or video to one person at a time. Although, Bolt has introduced some interesting features, including allowing users to edit and caption the photos sent, and an option to reply to their contacts with text overlaid over the previously sent image.
Too Much Visual Messaging Competition?
Bolt seems interesting enough, but is there too much competition and similar applications already out there on the market? Is it different enough? For example, even Facebook itself, who owns Instagram and Bolt, have recently brought out Slingshot image messaging. The Slingshot app includes the unique point that users can only view a photo they have been sent after they respond with another, as well as including a send to all function. Also, the Yo chat founder has recently brought out a rival in Mirage, a picture service that has already gained widespread comparisons for being highly similar in function to Bolt.
Another critique that Instagram’s Bolt has faced so far is in the name, as it is directly the same as an Android application. This previous Bolt is a service dedicated to replacing traditional voice calling and text messaging through current phone plans. They have reached out to Instagram asking them to reconsider the Bolt name, in order to maintain their brand, but have yet to receive a response. Yet, it is highly unlikely that Instagram will change it.
Bolt: Flipping the Concept
Instagram simply doesn’t seem at all put off by the competition or any critiques, including featuring as similar to any current photo and video messaging apps out there. An Instagram spokesman has already commented: “When Instagram itself launched four years ago, we weren’t the first photo filter app. Our tradition is that we look at a space and create a super simple, pretty experience to fit it.”
The Instagram app certainly gained mass popularity rapidly, and it seems that they are hoping Bolt will follow suit. Instagram claims that they are fully behind and support Bolt completely, and hope this will flip the whole concept of image based communication and photo sharing on its head.
If you already can’t wait to download Bolt and send images to your 20 favourites to your heart’s content, unfortunately you will have to wait a little longer. Currently, Bolt has only been released in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Bolt intends on expanding into other countries soon, although a date has not been confirmed. The release has been rather quiet so far, but perhaps this is a logical approach intended to scale the experience.
As Bright Yellow Creative are an office full of current Instagram devotees, we definitely anticipate the release! We are excited to witness what Bolt really has to offer.