Instagram releases Bolt ephemeral messaging app in select markets to challenge Snapchat

30 July 2014, 6:00 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

Popular service Instagram has started to roll out a new app called Bolt in select markets, aiming to challenge ephemeral message service Snapchat.

The name and the icon for Instagram's new Bolt have recently leaked online, suggesting an imminent release, and now the app is ready for trials in select markets.

According to a new report from the Verge, Bolt is now available for download in the New Zealand, Singapore, and South African app stores. Instagram's new app is designed to allow users to send photos and videos to friends, and the content will disappear once the recipient views it. If that all sounds quite familiar, it's because Snapchat has made a name for itself particularly due to the ephemeral nature of its messages. Facebook recently launched its own Snapchat competitor called Slingshot, and Instagram is now joining the party with its new Bolt app.

Facebook-owned Instagram is only releasing its new Bolt app in a few countries for now, in a bid to "make sure we can scale the experience," a spokesperson explained to The Verge.

This limited rollout basically aims to test the waters and see how it all goes, and once all bugs are fixed and everything goes smoothly Bolt will make its way to other markets as well, including the U.S.

While Bold obviously borrows a few pages from Snapchat's playbook, it's also uncannily similar to Taptalk. Users will only be able to send a message to one person at a time, while a row of four profiles at the bottom of the app can hold up to 20 people, supporting swipe gestures. Users simply need to tap on a friend's profile to send them a photo, or long-tap to send a video.

Just like Snapchat, Bolt will allow users to add text on top of photos. Snapchat has proved to be widely popular worldwide, despite the controversy it stirred, but it remains to be seen whether competing apps will be able to pose a real threat. Facebook's Slingshot app basically flopped from the start, yet Instagram seems to believe it has what it takes to challenge Snapchat with its new Bolt app. If you're in New Zealand, Singapore, or South Africa, and have tried out Bolt, drop by our comment section below and let us know how it fares.

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