Instagram has announced new video chat feature in Direct, custom AR filters as well as a new Topic channels on Explore. The video chat feature in Direct lets users either have a one-on-one or group video calls with up to four people. The feature does not require a phone number to make a video call. Instead, it will work for those with whom the user already has an active Direct thread on Instagram. Users can minimise the video call into a ‘picture-in-picture’ window and continue to browse through Instagram, send messages and photos in Direct, browse their feed as well as post a story, etc.
How to use Instagram video chat
To start a video chat on Instagram, swipe into Direct inbox and open any message thread. Next, tap on the new camera icon in the right corner. The user’s friends will get a ring on their phone once the video call is started. The video will expand as more friends join. The camera icon will turn blue if there’s an active video chat in a group thread. Instagram users can simply tap the camera to join video call. A video chat can be ended by tapping the red phone icon at the bottom.
Instagram users can video chat with anyone in Direct. However, those who block a person, they will no longer be able to video chat with the user. Instagram will also give users an option to mute a person if they do not want to receive notifications from them.
The video chat feature for Instagram was announced at Facebook’s F8 developer conference this year. Facebook-owned WhatsApp is also supposed to get group video call option by the end of this year and the feature is now live on Android beta. With group video chat already available for Instagram, we expect it to be rolled out officially for the chat app as well.
Instagram’s Explorer tab has also been redesigned, which makes it easier to browse through posts and see accounts the user wants to follow. Now, when users open a page, they will see a tray at the top with personalised channels, which includes a ‘For You’ channel with posts tailored to users’ interests. Several channels on topics that the user might like such as Art, Sports, Beauty or Fashion – as well as a list of hashtags, has also been included. A topic channel can be removed as well. To remove, press and hold the channel and select ‘Mute’ from the menu.
Instagram has added support for custom AR filters. The Facebook-owned app has introduced new camera effects designed by partners Ariana Grande, Buzzfeed, Liza Koshy, Baby Ariel, and the NBA. The updates are rolling out for close to one billion Instagram users globally on Android and iOS platform starting today.