Instagram has launched Bolt, an iOS and Android application to rival Snapchat and Facebook Slingshot, where users send self-deleting images to each other.
Known as ephemeral, this form of messaging shot to fame in 2012 with the launch of Snapchat, where images can only be seen for a few seconds, as determined by the sender, before deleting themselves.
Related: How is Facebook Slingshot different to Snapchat?
You sign into Bolt using your mobile phone number - no Instagram or Facebook account required - and contacts are added from your phone address book. You’re then presented with a camera view finder and a scrollable list of your contacts’ profile pictures. Tap on a friend’s face and a photo is instantly taken and shared with them - it’s this simplicity which Instagram (and parent company Facebook) hopes will give it the edge over Snapchat.
Tapping and holding on a friend's face sends them a video. But you can only share with one friend at a time, so if you want to send the same image or video to several friends you’ll have to re-shoot it for each of them - a chore compared to Snapchat’s ability to share content with everyone at once.
You can view a received image for as long as you like, but swiping away deletes it forever (unless you screen grab it, of course). You can then reply with an image of your own, or send a written reply typed over the received image, which becomes a blurred background - just like Facebook Slingshot.
Unique to Bolt is the undo command. Shake the phone right after sending a photo and it will be retrieved before reaching whoever you sent it to - useful if you send a photo to the wrong person. Shaking also gives you the option of saving the photo to your phone’s camera roll.
Bolt is free for iOS and Android, but is currently only available in Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand while Instagram irons out bugs and refines the app. Expect a wider rollout soon.