Whether it’s just a fad or a legitimately useful tool, there’s no two ways about it: apps that offer users the ability to send messages that have a built-in expiration date are the hot thing to deliver right now. Following the success of Snapchat we’ve seen no shortage of copycats, including Facebook’s recent launch of Slingshot. Last week, rumors about a new one emerged, with word that Instagram was preparing an ephemeral messaging service of its own, dubbed Bolt. While Bolt is still not widely available, Instagram has quietly gone ahead and publicly launched the service in select nations.
As of right now, Bolt is available on iOS and Android for users in Singapore, South Africa, and New Zealand. After more testing in these areas, the plan is to make the app available in more nations, including the US.
Functionally, Bolt lets users send a pic to a friend with a single tap, or a tap-and-hold to send a video. There’s a gesture-controlled undo feature, letting you shake your phone to retract a message before the recipient has a chance to look; otherwise, they get to view it once, and then once it’s dismissed it’s gone.
But does Bolt have what it takes to outshine its competition? Well, that remains to be seen, but early reports fail to identify a killer feature that makes Bolt stand out. Instagram seems to be really pushing the one-tap-to-share idea, but we’ll have to see how users respond before we know if that’s as big a deal as the company thinks.