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Instagram’s New Bolt App Takes on Snapchat


Instagram’s new photo-messaging app Bolt is finally available on iOS and Android. The spin-off service leaked last week and now it’s official, though at launch Bolt is only available in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

Facebook already tried to copy Snapchat once before with Slingshot, and there are definitely some clear similarities between Bolt and the popular ephemeral messaging service. Bolt lets you quickly snap a photo and send it even quicker than you can on Snapchat. All pictures are also self-destructing, disappearing as soon as you’re done viewing them, and the app builds a network straight from your phone contacts. You don’t even need an Instagram or Facebook account to sign up.

There are also a few clear differences between the two apps. Unlike Snapchat, Bolt won’t let you send a photo to multiple people. Instead of a shutter button, the UI offers a row of contacts along the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve framed a photo just tap a friend’s face to instantly snap and send. You can also shake your phone just after sending a photo to unsend the message or save it to your camera roll.

Whether Bolt will be a hit or not is unclear. For now, Instagram is testing the app in three smaller English-speaking countries where its photo-sharing service is already popular, though hopefully it launches in new markets soon.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...