Instagram yesterday unveiled a new messaging app that allows users to send short-lived photo and video messages from their mobile devices. Dubbed Bolt, the app's premise is similar to that of Snapchat or Slingshot.
Bolt doesn't require a Facebook or Instagram account. You can easily signup using your phone number. Once done, the app has access to your contacts and you can select to pull any of them into your Favorites list.
After the initial setup, you are thrown straight into the Bolt camera, with faces of your friends in your Favorites list appearing as a scrollable row across the bottom of the screen. There's no standard shutter button; just tap a friend's face to capture and send an image, or tap and hold to send a video.
Unlike Snapchat, which allows you to edit an image after you've clicked it, Bolt lets you write on photos (text only) before you tap a friend’s face. Notifications for newly received Bolts appear at the top of the camera screen, and you can reply either with a new Bolt or by writing text over a blurred version of the Bolt you just received.
To delete a Bolt, just swipe it away, or it'll be automatically destroyed after 30 days. Once a Bolt is deleted it disappears from Instagram’s servers too.
The app also offers a shake to undo feature that lets you unsend a Bolt within the first few seconds of sending it by shaking your phone. This also brings up an option to save your outgoing shot to your camera roll.
Bolt's user interface is uncluttered and includes options like front/rear camera selection, flash controls, and text input. There are, however, some limitations. For example, the app supports only one-to-one interaction, you cannot upload shots from your camera roll and you can invite friends via SMS only.
In addition, the iOS and Android app is available only in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa for the time being. “We’re going to other regions soon, but are starting with handful of countries to make sure we can scale the experience”, a spokesperson for Instagram said.
The news comes a month after Facebook, which owns Instagram, launched its own ephemeral messaging app called Slingshot.