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Instagram starts slow roll-out of Bolt instant messaging app

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Instagram has launched its own take on the instant messaging app, called Bolt.

Bolt works on a similar principle to rivals Mirage and Tapchat, stripping the image and video sharing experience on your mobile to the bare minimum.

The app presents you with a camera viewfinder and a series of thumbnail photos of your friends - four favourites, and up to 20 others that can be accessed with a swipe. All you have to do is tap on one of those images to send them whatever's in the viewfinder at that moment. Holding the image will send a video, while shaking your phone will undo the last image share.

On the other end, swiping away received images deletes them for good.

If that all sounds appealing, don't get too excited. Bolt is currently only available to iOS and Android users in New Zealand, South Africa, and Singapore.

Instagram is slowly rolling out its new service to ensure it can scale the experience up properly, which is why it's selected small, tech-savvy communities for the initial launch ahead of the US or UK.

Interestingly, the app launches not too long after Slingshot, Facebook's own new instant messaging app. Instagram, of course, is owned by Facebook.

A closer look should show you that the two apps are really very different approaches to the same sharing craze. Slingshot is all about sharing quickly with groups of people. Meanwhile Bolt is all about one-to-one interaction.

Is there enough of a unique angle to Bolt to make it the next big thing, though? We'll only truly find out once it attains a wider launch.

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