Instagram has started rolling out new features which were announced back at the Facebook F8 Developers Conference. Out of the features announced back then, Instagram is now rolling out Video Chat, topic channels in Explore (which was live for some users last week) and new camera effects for Instagram Stories. With this new update, Instagram becomes the third platform from Facebook to offer video calling feature after Facebook and WhatsApp. Having said that, the video chat feature on Instagram isn’t that bad as we tested it out and it works way better than what we thought when the feature was announced.
Video Chat through Instagram Direct
Last year, Instagram added the direct messaging feature to the platform, dubbed as Instagram Direct. And now, the company has rolled out video chat feature in Instagram Direct, allowing users to make and receive video calls with just one person or a group. However, video chat feature is made available only for connected people, meaning you’ve to follow a person and the other person should also follow you to make the video calling work. The feature is available for both Android and iOS users.
To start a video chat, swipe to right from the home screen to your Instagram Direct inbox and open any message thread. Tap the new camera icon in the right corner, and the video chat will ring your friends’ phones, so they don’t miss it. While on the video chat, you can minimise the video and multitask on Instagram (PiP mode within the app), sending messages and photos in Direct, browsing your feed, posting a story and more.
Video chat is also available for groups. You can video chat with up to four people at a time, and the video will expand as more friends join. If there’s an active video chat in a group thread, the camera icon will turn blue. Simply tap the camera to join in the ongoing video call. Instagram stated that users could video chat with anyone you have an active Direct thread with. If you block a person, they will no longer be able to video chat you. You can also mute a person if you don’t want to receive notifications from them. To update your video chat notifications, tap the gear icon on profile and find the new video chat control in Push Notifications.
Topic Channels on Explore Tab
Instagram is also rolling out Topic Channels on Explore tab, which was already live for some users last week. Going forward, it will be even easier for users to browse through posts and accounts. Topic Channels will let you be more intentional on navigating posts on Explore tab. When a user opens the Explore tab, they’ll be now presented with a tray at the top with personalised channels.
The personalised channels include a ‘For You’ channel, which has a mix of posts tailored to your interests. You’ll also be able to see channels on topics such as Art, Sports, Beauty, Fashion and others.
New Camera Effects for Stories
Instagram is also rolling out new camera effects designed by Ariana Grande, Buzzfeed, Liza Koshy, Baby Ariel and NBA in the Instagram camera. Instagram also promises to add more camera effects going forward.