Instagram has undoubtedly been working hard to improve its features lately. They obviously want to take a greater share of the social media marketplace. First, they brought in IGTV – which they clearly hope to be a YouTube killer. They then added the ability to include a musical backing on your Instagram Story. They are now trying to out-Snapchat Snapchat itself, by adding Instagram video chat – disappearing video chats to go alongside disappearing stories.
Instagram Video Chat was first signposted by accident, back in January 2018, when the WAbetainfo blog first discovered the existence of a video call button image and files buried in Instagram and the Instagram Direct standalone app’s Android Application Packages (APKs). At the time, Instagram refused to comment. They were apparently there for a purpose, however, and a couple of months later Instagram admitted that they were testing an Instagram video chat facility.
Instagram was happier to talk about the forthcoming feature by April, however, and officially announced its arrival on June 26th.
Like Facebook Messenger and Microsoft Skype, Instagram video chat is independent of a user’s phone. You don’t need a phone number or any calling credit, although you will need access to the Internet. You can even use it on your iPad – which isn’t a phone at all.
How to Get Instagram Video Chat and How to Use It:
How to Get Instagram Video Chat
You don’t have to worry about having to do anything complicated to get Instagram video chat. You don’t have to upgrade to a business profile or change your Instagram usage to gain access.
Instagram video chat is being rolled out to everybody in the latest Instagram update. It is quite likely that you already have it, although you may not be aware of it. It is available in both iOS and Android versions of the Instagram app.
If you can’t find the feature on your phone, make sure that your app is up-to-date. Head over to your iOS App Store or Google Play Store and search for the Instagram app. Proceed to download the latest version (it will tell you if you are already up-to-date). If you haven’t already done so, change your settings to allow for automatic updates in the future. Changes are happening quickly with Instagram, so you don’t want to be left with an out-of-date version.
How to Use Instagram Video Chat
Begin by opening your Instagram app. Depending on when you last used it, you may need to log in first.
At the top-right of your home page, you will notice an icon that looks like a paper plane. Tapping on that will take you to a Direct message screen. This page shows people you have previously chatted with – either via text or video messaging. It may also suggest some of your other Instagram friends for you to start a conversation.
If you can see the person who you want to have a video chat with on your list, tap on their name to go to their Chat page. If you don’t see them, begin to type their name into the Search box. Instagram will offer suggestions, hopefully including the person to whom you want to chat.
When you go to their Chat page, you can send a written message by typing in the box at the bottom of the page. You can add an image from your Camera Roll (by pressing on the Picture icon) or a heart (by pressing on the heart icon).
Alternatively, you can set up an Instagram video chat by clicking on the movie camera icon in the top right corner of your Instagram screen. Instagram sets up a call to your friend on his or her phone, even if they aren’t using Instagram at the time.
Once the recipient picks up, you can start your call.
To end your call, just click on the circular red phone icon near the bottom of your screen.
You can minimize the video and continue to use Instagram if you’re busy. This means that you can continue to send messages and photos, browse your feed, or create an Instagram Story, while you chat.
There is no limit to the length of your call. You can keep on chatting as long as you want to, although it will probably be evident to the other person if you are doing other things while they are talking to you. Remember, being a video call they can see what you are doing.
Add Your Friends
Instagram realizes that there are times that you want more than a simple one-on-one chat. Perhaps you and a group of besties want to sort something out together, or just catch up on what you did over the holidays.
You can add a maximum of four people (in addition to yourself) to a single Instagram video chat.
You can even add yourself to an existing call your friends your friends are carrying out. If you have already set up a group chat between yourself and a group of friends, the thread will remain in your chat queue. If members are in the process of video-chatting, you will notice that the camera icon will have turned blue. You can add yourself to that chat by clicking on the blue icon.
When you have a group chat, you will be able to see everybody. For instance, if you are talking to a full room of four friends, a video of each person will take up a quarter of the screen.
Should anybody on your call not have access to a camera, you can still carry out an audio call with them.
Avoid People You Don‘t Want to Chat With
Don’t worry about receiving Instagram video calls from nuisance people. Anybody you block on Instagram will also be blocked from video calling you. You can also decide not to answer if somebody rings when you’re in the shower or at some other inconvenient time.
Similarly, you can mute the accounts of anybody you’re wanting to ignore at the moment. You might not wish to unfriend or block them, but perhaps you've had enough of hearing about their latest holiday.
Once you are on somebody’s chat screen, you will notice a small arrow next to their username. If you click on that, you will go to their Details screen. You have options there to mute their messages and to mute their video chat. This is also the place where you can block or report people with whom you have a problem.
Other Recent Changes to Instagram
Instagram video chat is just one of a range of improvements Instagram has made to their network lately. Other recent changes include:
- It is easier to share to Instagram Stories from other apps, for example, Spotify and GoPro. If you click a button in these apps, your content is transferred straight to an Instagram Story. You can then edit it in Instagram before posting your Story for your friends to see. Alternatively, you may use it as a normal Instagram post.
- Additional camera effects have been added to Instagram. These include more face filters, text styles, and stickers. You can reuse an effect you see in somebody else’s Story with the press of a single button.
- You can now quickly add music tracks to your Instagram Stories
- Instagram Explore gives you a new way to discover new ideas, people, and experiences. Explore’s content is now organized into topic channels so you can browse your interests.
Instagram is in the process of rolling out their YouTube-killer app – IGTV. Like YouTube, people have channels on IGTV and can upload longer videos to their channels. Unlike their Google-owned competitor, however, IGTV requires that the uploaded videos be filmed in a vertical format. It has tremendous potential for influencer marketing.