We wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of the latest messaging app from Instagram, Bolt. Launched without much fanfare as a means to ‘test the waters’, Bolt is now available in only three markets – Singapore, New Zealand and South Africa, before Instagram decides to make the app more widely available.
With the launch, Instagram’s Bolt will be up against a whole slew of more established messaging apps like LINE, WeChat and the recently acquired WhatsApp owned by the same parent, Facebook. According to Instagram, the messaging apps in the market now requires too many steps before you can share an image or a video. So Bolt’s main difference is its “one-tap” experience; you shoot a photo or a video, add captions and share it instantly.
Setting Bolt up is similar to other messaging apps. You enter your mobile number and Bolt will access your contacts and constantly syncs with your contact list to find out who else have the app installed on their mobile devices. As the app is relatively new and the folks at Instagram seems happy to let it grow organically, Bolt is not immediately useful as not many of your friends would not be on it yet.
Bolt is good for sending photos quickly and privately. You can select up to 20 contacts, or “favorites,” and send them a message with a single tap. Messages on Bolt also don’t stick around forever — once you’ve seen the photo or video, swiped it away and it’s deleted for good.
Instagram and Bolt seem to enjoy a huge amount of autonomy from Facebook. We were surprised that Bolt doesn’t even include a Facebook log-in option.
Bolt for iOS (iOS 7+) is available today on Apple’s App Store and Bolt for Android (Ice Cream Sandwich and higher) is available for download on Google Play.