Instagram is officially firing shots all over the place. Who it’s aimed at is particularly interesting. Normally, I would say that it’s just Snapchat, but they’re also taking aim at FaceTime and Houseparty. Back at the F8 conference in May, Instagram made a quiet announcement that they would be launching video calling. And now, it’s starting to roll out to everyone on iOS and Android. What this will do is allow up to four friends to group chat through Instagram Direct. I say that this is taking aim at FaceTime because of Apple’s recent announcement to allow up to 32 people into one video call. Sure, this isn’t anywhere near that in terms of volume, but it is an alternative – especially if not everyone you want to chat with has iOS.
Instagram is certainly attempting to become a one-stop-shop. This was a goal of Facebook’s, but what we’re seeing is it getting applied to Instagram instead. Is this a calculated move on Facebook’s part? What I mean by that is Facebook is kind of in the dog house when it comes to being the go-to social networking app. So it seems like they’re taking advantage of Instagram and making it the new app to beat.
And it seems to be working. Instagram has officially made it past the 1 billion mark when it comes to daily active users. A lot of this is in thanks to the new features that they’ve been releasing – like changes to the feed, updates to Stories, changes to messaging and even InstagramTV – what more could you ask for? Like I said, these upgrades are paying off in a big way for Instagram. In fact, the average U.S. user has gone from spending 29 minutes per day on the app in September of 2017 to 55 minutes a day now. I feel like I’m one of those users, so I’m certainly helping Instagram.
While I’m not saying that this is going to give the other video calling apps a run for their money, it is an alternative. And like I said – especially if everyone on the call doesn’t use iOS. This is how Instagram’s feature compares:
- Instagram – 4-way plus simultaneous browsing
- Snapchat – 16-way
- FaceTime – 32-way (coming in iOS 12 this fall)
- Houseparty – 8-way per room with limitless parallel rooms
- Facebook Messenger – 6-way with up to 50 people listening via audio
Can people trust Facebook any more? Perhaps that’s not even a viable alternative at this point considering who might be listening. That’s not the only thing that Instagram is doing though. They’re rolling out two more features that they did promise at F8. The Explore page is now segmented to show a variety of topic channels that reveal associated content below. And now users will see a horizontal row of channels at the top of the Explore tab, which will be algorithmically personalized for you. I specifically have a channel for humor, because, well, I’m hilarious. There are also channels for Art, Beauty, Sports and whatever kind of content you regularly interact with.
Instagram’s mission and business model is centered around a commitment to user well being. Which means that they want you to spend time on the app in a positive and intentional way. Do these features help Instagram meet those goals? It certainly seems that way, but so did Facebook all those years ago and look how that turned out. For now, though, you can call 3 friends to discuss your weekend plans.