Instagram Bolt joins the ephemeral messaging fray [UPDATED]

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: July 29, 2014

Instagram Bolt iPhone screenshot

It seems that the ephemeral messaging market is expanding quickly. A little over a month after Facebook launched its Snapchat competitor known as “Slingshot,” Instagram has officially taken the wraps off of its own ephemeral offering.

Dubbed “Instagram Bolt,” the app is launching on Android and iOS today in select markets. Those locals are Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand. Instagram says that it selected those countries because they’ve got high Instagram usage and speak English. After Bolt has been tested in those markets, Instagram plans to roll it out to the rest of the world.

Once you download Instagram Bolt, you can sign up with your phone number. You can then select your Favorites from your contact list and have them displayed with their contact image in one big row. Tapping on a person’s image will quickly shoot them a photo, while holding on it will send a video.

Instagram Bolt features different photo and video settings for things like flash and text overlay. Once you receive a Bolt, you can view it, reply with an image or text and delete it. One feature that’s present in Bolt and not its competitors is Shake to Unsend, which will let you recall a Bolt within the first few seconds of sending it.

So that’s Bolt. Instagram seems to think that its new app can succeed by allowing users to quickly send images and video, but it’s going to face some stiff competition. Snapchat is already a well-established player in the ephemeral messaging market, and there are plenty of other regular messaging apps available. Heck, even Instagram Direct is built into the regular Instagram app and lets you send images directly to a single person.

There’s no word yet on exactly when Instagram Bolt will roll out to other countries, but I’ll give you a shout once more details are revealed.

Instagram Bolt Android screenshots

UPDATE: Instagram Bolt is now live in Google Play. The app is still only available to select countries, but the listing does give us more info about the app and a few screenshots as well.

The description for Bolt says that users can add up to 20 Favorites from their contacts, exchange photos and videos and swipe them away when you’re done with them. The app’s official feature list is as follows:

  • One tap takes a photo or records a video. As soon as you lift your finger, it sends. 
  • Photos and videos are always unedited so people can see the world as you do. 
  • Easily caption photos and videos. 
  • Go back and forth by replying to your friends with text, photos or videos. 
  • Swipe photos away and they're gone. 
  • Organize your 20 Favorites in whatever order works for you. 
  • Sign up with your phone number, no email address needed.

You can find Instagram Bolt in Google Play right here.

Via TechCrunch, Google Play: Instagram Bolt