Following the launching of IGTV last week, Instagram releases a new update that adds video chat, a redesigned Explore tab, and new camera effects to the app.
Instagram teased the features at Facebook's F8 developer conference last month. Now, an update carrying these exciting new features is being rolled out to iOS and Android users. Let's delve deeper into each one:
New Video Chat Feature
The new video chat feature is Instagram's answer to Google Duo and FaceTime. The feature, which can be accessed via the Instagram Direct tab, allows users to enjoy video calls with one person or a group of up to four friends at a time.
The feature will only work with users who already have an active Direct conversation with others, which requires both parties to respond. Users can open a message thread and tap the camera icon on the top right corner to initiate the video call.
Users also have the option to minimize the video mid-call into a picture-in-picture window and continue scrolling through their Instagram feed. Moreover, one can block others to prevent them from video calling and also mute participants of the video chat.
Instagram is billing the Video Chat feature as a means for users to connect with others without the need for a phone number, which is great when compared to Google's video-calling app Duo. Duo requires both the caller and the receiver to have the app installed with a phone number associated with the account.
Redesigned Explore Feed With Topic Channels
Instagram has revamped the Explore tab with new topic channels, allowing users to easily find the content they're interested in. It includes a "For You" category, which serves up content based on the user's Instagram activity, as well as other channels such as TV & Movies, Beauty, Food, Sports, Music, Travel, and so on.
Out of Instagram's 1 billion strong user base, nearly 200 million users visit the Explore feed every day. This number is likely to grow with the photo-sharing app's new Explore tab.
New Camera Effects
Another interesting feature that has come with the latest Instagram update is the new camera effects for Stories. Instagram has partnered up with third parties including Buzzfeed, Ariana Grande, Liza Koshy, Baby Ariel and the NBA to offer new camera effects to users.
However, these effects will not show up on everyone's feed. Users need to follow the accounts that created them to use them. For example, they will be able to try out the Liza Koshy camera effect, which places a mustache and thick eyebrows on them, only if they follow the vlogger's Instagram account.