Instagram officially launched Bolt outside the U.S. today after a false start last week.
We can assume the “prerelease” release marketing ploy was the handiwork of parent company Facebook. The social network employed the same gimmick for its ephemeral messaging service, SlingShot.
The app, which launched both for iOS and Android, is available in Singapore, South Africa, and New Zealand, all markets that will give Instagram/Facebook a good chance to test the product before it launches in the U.S. and the U.K.
You sign up for Bolt with a phone number and can import up to 20 favorite contacts. Tap a friend’s face to send them a photo, and voilà, message sent. Press down, rather than tap, on your friend’s face to send video. Of course, these messages disappear from Instagram’s servers after 30 days, unless you or your friend delete them first.
TapTalk and Mobli’s Mirage, which also launched this week, provide nearly the exact same service. So it’s unclear what Instagram thinks sets its app apart.
Facebook and Instagram already have a lot of communication tools. Facebook has News Feed, Messenger, and Slingshot, among others. Instagram has its own feed with comments as well as Instagram Direct — how many ways do people need to communicate?
But the one-tap-app phenomenon is more about cracking the “Yo” code than providing yet another messaging service. Yo, which sends your friend a mobile message that reads “Yo,” surpassed 1 million users recently, causing many in the tech community to scratch their heads. How did they do it?
Until they figure it out, we’re likely to see a lot of simple apps that with a touch of button will allow you share location, communicate, send a photo — you name it. Get ready for the onslaught.