TORONTO – Instagram has officially unveiled a disappearing photo messaging app called “Bolt,” meant to take on rival Snapchat, just one week after the app was leaked.
The app allows users to send self-destructing photo and video messages to friends and include additions like text captions. Users can only send messages to one person at a time and are only able to have 20 friends on their “favourites” list.
Speculation surrounding the app began last week after some Instagram users reported receiving a notification about a new messaging app on their profiles. However, the link included in the notification was dead.
Bolt draws on features from competitor Snapchat and Facebook’s Slingshot app, which was released last month to compete with Snapchat.
But Instagram is owned by Facebook – which means this is the company’s second shot at Snapchat.
Slingshot allows users to send photos or videos up to 15 seconds long – but, just like instant messaging competitor Snapchat’s app, the images disappear once viewed by the recipient.
Oddly enough Facebook also prematurely leaked the Snapchat app to the App Store before its official release.
Snapchat has seen massive success in the mobile messaging category. Users send over 400 million “snaps” per day, which makes it a fierce competitor for Facebook’s Messenger app.
And Facebook has a competitive past with the app.
In December 2012, Facebook released an app called “Poke” that mimicked Snapchat’s self-destructing photo feature. But the app tanked and was pulled from the App Store a year later.
In 2013, it was reported that Snapchat turned down a US$3-billion takeover bid from Facebook.
Then in February, Facebook purchased WhatsApp, another popular messaging app, for US$19 billion.
Instagram is initially launching Bolt in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. It’s not yet clear when the app will launch in other countries.
© Shaw Media, 2014