Instagram launches video chat, new explore tab and more for iOS and Android

Instagram video chat allows up to 4 people to simultaneously chat at once using Direct.

Instagram is taking the fight directly to its rival Snapchat as it introduces a new video calling feature for both iOS and Android starting today. With two enormously popular video calling options already under its belt such as WhatsApp and Messenger, Facebook, which owns Instagram, is now looking for total dominance.

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram. Reuters

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram. Reuters

The feature was first announced at Facebook's annual F8 Developers conference. Instagram video chat, which happens via Instagram direct, allows up to  4 people to simultaneously chat at once. Users will now see a small video button on all your contacts direct message chat window and clicking on it will start a video call with that person. User's who have been blocked cannot video call you.

There are some other noteworthy features as well. Want to browse your Instagram feed while video calling with your buddies? You can minimize the window so that the video chat appears like picture-in-picture display and continue to scroll through your feed. Don't worry, your buddies can't see what you are browsing. You can also have more friends join an Instagram call already in progress.

Instagram Video Call.

Instagram Video Call.

In terms of competition, Snapchat allows up to 16 people to join in on a video call while FaceTime can double that number to 32.

Some other features that were announced at F8 are also being made available. The Explore page will now be segmented to show various topics along with associated content below it. This could really open Instagram users to more creators, kind of like how YouTube does.

Instagram Explore.

Instagram Explore.

A horizontal tray of channels above Explore will appear showing a curated 'For You' collection along with videos on Art, Beauty, Sports, Fashion and more. Below that would be a list of popular hashtags which will be displayed according to the topic channel you choose. If you’d like to remove a topic channel, press and hold the channel and select ‘Mute Art’ from the menu.

Instagram is also rolling out new camera effects designed by partners, like Ariana Grande, BuzzFeed, Liz Koshy, Baby Ariel and the NBA. If you follow their accounts, you will see the face filter on Stories camera, and you can hit Try It On to.... well... try it on.

Instagram Face Filters.

Instagram Face Filters.

These updates follow the recent report by the Bloomberg Intelligence Unit.which said that if Instagram was a standalone company, it would have been worth more than $100 billion. The Bloomberg report also hints that in the future Instagram could make up for a sizeable chunk of 16 percent of Facebook's revenue which is an upward move from 10.6 percent in 2017.

 




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