Instagram is coming up with all sorts of updates. Right after the launch of IGTV, it has come with yet another update. And this update is its competition against SnapChat and FaceTime. Instagram now allows 4- way video chatting opportunities.
The feature was officially announced at F8 in May. Now it’s actually rolling out to everyone on iOS and Android, allowing up to four friends to group video call together through Instagram Direct. With the feed, Stories, messaging, Live, IGTV and now video calling, Instagram is hoping to become a one-stop-shop for its 1 billion users’ social needs. This massive expansion in functionality over the past two years is paying off, SimilarWeb told TechCrunch in an email, which estimates that the average U.S. user has gone from spending 29 minutes per day on the app in September 2017 to 55 minutes today.
One cool feature of Instagram video calling is that you can minimize the window and bounce around the rest of Instagram without ending the call. That opens new opportunities for co-browsing with friends as if you were hanging out together. More friends can join an Instagram call in progress, though you can mute them if you don’t want to get more call invites. You’re allowed to call anyone you can direct message by hitting the video button in a chat, and blocked people can’t call you.
Instagram is also rolling out two more features promised at F8. The Explore page will now be segmented to show a variety of topic channels that reveal associated content below. Previously, Explore’s 200 million daily users just saw a random mish-mash of popular content related to their interests, with just a single “Videos You Might Like” section separated.Now users will see a horizontal tray of channels atop Explore, including an algorithmically personalized For You collection, plus ones like Art, Beauty, Sports and Fashion, depending on what content you regularly interact with. Users can swipe between the categories to browse, and then scroll up to view more posts from any they enjoy. A list of sub-hashtags appears when you open a category, like #MoGraph (motion graphics) or #Typeface when you open art. And if you’re sick of seeing a category, you can mute it. Strangely, Instagram has stripped Stories out of Explore entirely, but when asked, the team told us it plans to bring Stories back in the near future.