Just a few days after announcing IGTV, Instagram is rolling out new features for Android and iOS. The new update brings with it video chat, topic channels in Explore and new camera effects for Stories. The update is rolling out from today itself.
The new video chat feature allows users to make video calls to either individuals or groups. Calls can be made to friends on Instagram without the need for a phone number, and can be made between the two operating systems. In order to make a video call, users will have to swipe into their Direct inbox and open any message thread. Tapping on the new camera icon will make the call. When on video chat, the video itself can be minimised, letting you multitask on Instagram so you can browse the feed, send messages and photos, post a story and more. Instagram also support group chats with up to four people at a time. If there is a active video chat going on in a group thread, users can join in by by tapping the camera icon.
The topic channels on Explore is aimed at giving users a new way to discover interests in Instagram. Now when users open the Explore page, they will see a tray on top with personalised channels. This includes a ‘For You’ channel which will feature a mix of content tailored to a user’s interests. There will also be channels on other topics like Art, Spots, Beauty and more, along with a list of hashtags that you can follow.
Further, Instagram is tweaking the way users browse Explore. Users will be able to browse through a variety of interests by swiping from grid to grid.. They will also have the option to go deep into specific interests by tapping on a channel and scrolling up. To remove a channel, users press and hold the channel and select ‘Mute’ from the menu. Doing this sends the channel to the end of the tray, giving users the option to unmute it if they want.
The final new feature introduced with the update are a batch of new camera effects. These effects have been designed by the likes of Ariana Grande, Buzzfeed, Liza Koshy, Baby Ariel and the NBA. Like all other camera effects, these can be accessed through the Instagram camera. However, it should be noted that to get these new effects, you need to be following any of their accounts.
All this comes just a couple of days after a Bloomberg report stated that the platform was worth over $100 Billion dollars. This means that Instagram and made a 100-fold return for Facebook, which acquired the platform for a billion Dollars back in 2012. Back then, the move perplexed many as the platform had a team of 13 people and was valued at just $500 million. It also made close to no revenue. However, since the acquisition, Instagram has become wildly successful and facebook has been cashing in on the app by bring in advertisements and more recently, stickers that allowed users to shop when viewing stories. In fact, Bloomberg’s report notes that the platform is growing faster than than its parent company, Facebook and is on track to exceed 2 Billion users within the next five years.